COVID-19: Vulnerable Aucklanders forced to give up waiting for vaccination due to queues, confusion at inoculation sites

The head of Auckland's COVID-19 vaccination programme has been forced to apologise after older, vulnerable New Zealanders gave up waiting for the crucial jab due to long queues and disorganisation. 

One woman faced a five-hour wait, with others saying the process is too disorderly. 

But it's not just those wanting vaccines who are frustrated and angry - staff are too. 

Outside a busy vaccination site on Friday, Newshub attempted to conduct an interview with a woman yet to have her inoculation. Newshub was not on the site's grounds, but across the road on a footpath.

However, tensions began to rise when the security guard claimed Newshub was "disturbing" the vaccination efforts.

The woman and her partner had booked an appointment, but left due to queues and confusion over parking. 

"Appalling, appalling - but that's this Government for you isn't it," the woman said.

"They've had a year to plan this. They haven't even got the local doctors involved in doing the injections," said her partner.

At another site in Mt Wellington, people queued outside for hours.

But Mary Winton's husband couldn't. He didn't want to miss a specialist appointment, so left without receiving the critically-important injection.

"It's taken all morning and in the end my husband had to give up to go on to his hospital appointment. So now I'm standing on the side of the road, waiting to find a taxi," Winton, a Bucklands Beach resident, told Newshub.

Mt Wellington resident Wendy Lelo arrived on-time for her appointment on Thursday, but decided it wasn't worth it after talking to a warden. 

"I said I've got a 1pm appointment and he said, 'well, my dear, you could go and stand in the queue, but you could be waiting five hours'," Lelo said.

She has rebooked for a second attempt, but fears the delays could put others off. 

"I think we're making a bit of a mess with the vaccines. I don't think the left-hand knows what the right-hand is doing at the moment."

The District Health Board (DHB) says it's working on it.

"We're really sorry for any inconvenience that people have experienced today. This is the biggest logistical exercise that's ever been undertaken by the healthcare system," Matt Hannant, the director of the Auckland COVID-19 vaccine programme, told Newshub.

Part of the problem is the DHB has allowed walk-ins from South Auckland at two sites, competing with those who have made bookings.

"It's great they're full to capacity. We want people to be able to access their vaccines," Hannant said.

"People can make a booking. That's still the best way to go."

But as demonstrated by Lelo's booking experience, making an appointment is not always the best way to go. 

The medical director of The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners, Bryan Betty, says the problem with the current system is that it's too centralised - and there are not enough access points to receive the jab. 

GPs have been told they'll be needed for the vaccine rollout by July, but Betty says doctors have been given "very little" information about how that will work, how vaccines will be distributed, or how many doses clinics will receive. 

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health said it was their "vision" that doctors and pharmacists would help with the rollout, but couldn't explain why they were being left until July to get involved.