Coronavirus: Chris Hipkins admits 'data issues' mean number of vaccinated border workers' families unknown

Chris Hipkins admits officials don't know how many border workers' families have received a COVID-19 vaccine due to "data issues".

Last week, Newshub revealed just over 60 percent of the group labelled "high-risk" by the Government are yet to receive their first vaccination. This group includes frontline health workers, those in long-term care, and older Māori and Pacific people.

An estimated 50,000 people have been categorised in Group 1B, which are household members of border and MIQ workers. Ministry of Health figures show around 50 percent have not even had their first shot.

Hipkins, the COVID-19 Response Minister, believes the uptake in high-risk groups could be higher, but there's been a data issue which the Ministry of Health is trying to fix.  

"For example, if a household contact of a border worker goes in and gets vaccinated and does not say that they are a household contact, it may not be recorded against them," he told reporters on Tuesday.

"We also don't have contact details for all of those people, unless the border worker, when they're being vaccinated, supplies those household contact details."

Since there are "issues" with that group, that's where he believes the problems lie.

"It's likely that the vaccination rates of that group, that 1B group, are slightly higher than what the data is recording," he says.

There's now a "data cleansing process" to help ensure all the information tallies up.

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield told the New Zealand Herald on Saturday that not everyone who is a household contact would be "coded" in the system as such.

"A lot of effort went into the first four to six weeks to both identify and reach out and actually take vaccinations out to those communities where these people were, but they just won't be coded in the system as identifiable in that group of household contacts," he said.

Hipkins earlier said the reason many people in priority groups hadn't received a vaccine yet is because they simply hadn't gone to get one.

He told Newshub Nation on Saturday that while there'd been an emphasis on border workers to get the jab since many are required to get vaccinated or find another job, it's different for their families.

"In terms of the families, that's a challenge because it's voluntary," he said. "They need to come forward... not all of them have been coming forward."

In New Zealand, 432,509 first doses of the vaccine have been administered. So far,  235,606 people have received their second dose, meaning they're fully vaccinated.