COVID-19: No plans to vaccinate south Auckland first, Government sticking to 'risk-based approach' - Chris Hipkins

COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says there are no plans to prioritise the coronavirus vaccine for south Auckland first, despite the most recent cluster.

Speaking on Newshub Nation, Hipkins says border workers and frontline health workers are first in line for the vaccine while stocks are limited.

"Then we look at two things - people who are most at risk and settings that are most at risk," he said on Sunday.

People who are at risk include those more likely to have a severe reaction to COVID-19 due to age and underlying health conditions.

Settings that are most at risk would include places like aged residential care homes or settings near an airport, Hipkins said.

"So south Auckland is a setting where risk levels are higher because more people are coming in contact with people who are working in and around the airport."

When asked by host Simon Sheppard whether he would prioritise south Aucklanders, Hipkins said it depends on how much stock New Zealand gets.

"That comes down to how many vaccines we get and when we get them.

"As soon as we can be broadening out to a larger group of people, we will.

"But we also have to be aware that as soon as we push that particular button, there's likely to be higher levels of demand and we have to satisfy those levels of demand.

"So at this point, we don't have sufficient stocks of vaccines in the country to be able to do that, but as soon as we do, we will be."

But National leader Judith Collins wants vulnerable Aucklanders prioritised when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccination rollout.

She told Newshub Nation a call needs to be made on the matter.

"South Auckland has to have priority and the Government needs to put south Auckland first on that vaccination list, after the port and other border workers."

COVID-19 modelling expert Shaun Hendy says the Government is taking the right approach when it comes to its vaccination strategy.

"Yes, we are seeing these cases in south Auckland because of the connection to the border that many people have.

"You'd want to continue to use a targeted vaccination strategy where we are vaccinating people who are at most risk of exposure as opposed to a much more blanket, less targeted programme."

Prof Hendy says at this stage, the most important thing is to communicate with close contacts and families of those affected.

"It is a challenge communicating to such a wide variety of people and we've just got to double down on that. We've got to keep up the messaging."