COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine: Concerns there won't be enough staff trained for the wider vaccine rollout

New Zealand is due to start the mammoth task of vaccinating the wider nation against COVID-19 in a matter of weeks, but there are concerns there won't be enough vaccinators ready to complete the task.

So far 1300 vaccinators have undergone specialist online training to administer the Pfizer vaccine, but national manager of the Immunisation Advisory Centre Loretta Roberts says we're going to need 15,000.

"We will need to have an increased number of staff completing the training, we've certainly got the capacity to do that," Roberts told Newshub.

And they're widening the scope.

"We're now training physiotherapists, occupational therapists, phlebotomists, anaesthetic technicians," she said.

Online training is one thing, but there's a problem - they also need practical CPR training.

NZ Nurses Organisation spokesperson Kate Weston says there are a few barriers to this.

"The courses are costly and they are booked up so we're building in a bit of a delay of up to several months apparently in some areas," she said. 

"So that's a barrier that we need to remove."

The first group to be immunised is our 50,000 border and managed isolation workforce as well as their household contacts.

Approximately 480,000 frontline workers and people living in high-risk settings are next.

And from May 2021, another 1.7 million Kiwis from "priority populations" who are at "higher risk if they catch COVID-19" will join the queue for vaccinations.

You can go online to see when you can get a vaccine here

Māori providers want to take a leading role, but say there are tensions with DHBs 'muscling in'.

Kaiwhakahaere for the New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) Kerri Nuku is worried the DHBs have taken over.

"It does feel to be that DHBs have taken over administration, the funds, the budgets, and so the role of primary health care, or the nurses that work within it, seem to be getting silenced out," she said.

The good news is that so far the vaccine wastage rate is really low. Just 3 percent has been discarded, which is lower than predicted.

That's at least one shot in the arm for the huge task ahead.

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