ACT's David Seymour lays into Government over lack of COVID-19 vaccine rollout phases

ACT leader David Seymour is laying into the Government over its lack of clear COVID-19 vaccine rollout phases, saying it needs to catch up with Australia. 

"If the Government has a detailed plan about who gets what vaccine and when over the next six months, New Zealanders deserve to know about," Seymour told Newshub. "If they don't have that plan, New Zealanders deserve to know too."

New Zealand has outlined border staff and their families getting the first jabs and then non-border facing health workers, but Australia's goes beyond that, with its plan that includes several phases of who will be prioritised. 

The first phase, 1a, includes quarantine and border staff, frontline health staff including ambulance and paramedic services, as well as aged care and disability workers and residents - like New Zealand's plan. 

The next phase, 1b, includes elderly, other healthcare workers, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people older than 55, adults with underlying health conditions, and critical workers such as police and emergency staff. 

Phase 2a then prioritises adults aged 50 and above, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 18 to 54, and other critical workers. From there, the priority list goes down the age groups. The number of doses is also outlined for each group. 

More than half of New Zealand's estimated 12,000 border workforce have now received their first vaccinations, as a third batch of Pfizer vaccines arrived in the country, the Government announced on Wednesday. 

ACT leader David Seymour.
ACT leader David Seymour. Photo credit: Newshub / Zane Small

But the Government is yet to provide a full rollout plan like Australia. 

"We're still working through a number of factors which include how many vaccines we will have available and when we will have them available," Hipkins told reporters on Wednesday. 

"Ultimately our goal is to get to get to the point where we're not having to prioritise, as quickly as we can, and so the degree of prioritisation will depend a lot on supply.

"As we continue in a constrained environment we continue to prioritise, so there will be a bit of a rolling maul depending on what happens with supply."

Seymour says the Government needs to do better. 

"Chris Hipkins is performing an absurd dance of the seven veils, announcing today the Government intends to reveal group by group to an expectant public who will get access to COVID-19 vaccine next," he said. 

"Today Chris Hipkins described it as more like 'a rolling maul.' 

"Now we have proof that Cabinet is making our vaccination programme up as it goes along, signing off different tiers of the population at every Monday Cabinet meeting and then holding a big reveal later in the week."

COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins.
COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins. Photo credit: Newshub / Zane Small

Seymour described it as an "insulting lottery" process. 

"An organised Government would have laid the details of a national vaccine rollout strategy already, just as the Australian Government did over a month before its first vaccine arrived," he said. 

"It simply won't wash for the Government to claim not knowing how soon vaccines will arrive will impact their ability to inform New Zealanders of these basic elements of the rollout."

As of midnight on Tuesday, a total of 9431 people had received their first doses in New Zealand. More than 70 percent of those - 6688 people - have been delivered in the Auckland region.

"In places like Nelson/Marlborough, the smaller workforce has meant both the border workers and their families have been vaccinated at the same time, with the same batch of doses," Hipkins said. 

"This is really good news as it means they will also be protected from the virus, and ahead of schedule. I look forward to this rolling out in our main centres from next week."

The third shipment of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines adds a further 65,500 doses, bringing the total number of COVID-19 vaccines in New Zealand to 200,000.