COVID-19: Older Kiwis in Group 3 of Govt's vaccine rollout likely won't get jab until August - or later

Newshub can reveal some older New Zealanders in 'Group 3' of the Government's COVID-19 vaccination rollout likely won't be immunised until August - or possibly later.

The Ministry of Health says everyone in the high-risk group will receive the crucial jab - but they may not get invited to book their vaccination until "late July".

Auckland couple Lynette and Mike, aged 77 and 72 respectively, are desperate for protection against the virus. Mike is a dialysis patient.

"It's almost like the Government is ignoring people like us," he told Newshub.

Lynette questioned the process for determining who in the high-risk groups gets contacted first.

"How are they working this, how are they doing it?"

"It doesn't seem to be very professional," Mike added.

As the ministry has instructed, he and Lynette have waited for their invitation to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine - but so far, they've heard nothing. 

"You feel vulnerable all the time. We're just wondering when the hell people in situations like myself can get protection from it with the injection," Mike said.

Fellow Buckland's Beach resident Elizabeth Scaborough has received her first jab, but only after repeatedly phoning the vaccination line.  

"[It's] incredibly frustrating. Initially when I called, I was told quite politely that we, my husband and I, were not in the system," she told Newshub.

She is concerned about other vulnerable New Zealanders who are yet to receive their first dose of the vaccine. 

"My concern is they're going to miss out in this rollout, because it's going to get worse as more people are eligible." 

In April, the starting dates for Group 3's vaccinations were quietly altered online from May to "late May".

On May 26, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins warned of an "overlap", indicating some in Group 3 will have to wait until July.

On June 1, the health ministry told Newshub people in Group 3 "will have received an invitation by the end of July" - meaning some won't be receiving their vaccination until August.

"We were told that we could possibly register online and I tried that, I did register online, but received no response," says Dee Laycock, a Gulf Harbour resident.

Laycock has booked an appointment in July - however, her neighbour wasn't so lucky.

"They were told that there wouldn't be any appointments available until mid-August and then they would have to ring back later to get those," Laycock told Newshub.

The Ministry of Health says they "acknowledge that some people may be experiencing difficulties with booking vaccination appointments".

One part of the problem is that district health boards are using various methods to book vaccinations. 

The health ministry is trying to get a national booking system up and running, but three-and-a-half months into the rollout, it won't be fully functional nationwide for another six weeks.

In the meantime, people Newshub have spoken to just want to know that they haven't been left out of the system.