COVID-19: Gaping border holes raise concerns as highly-infectious Delta variant hits MIQ

Concerns have been raised about the gaping holes in New Zealand's defence with 1600 border workers still without a single vaccine as the country is running out of jabs.

The COVID Delta variant from India is surging around the world killing people by the thousands and it's battering at New Zealand's border with 30 cases caught in MIQ. 

We're about to run out of vaccine stocks to help protect us from it, with COVID Response Minister Chris Hipkins revealing on Wednesday the next batch of COVID-19 vaccines are due to arrive the same day New Zealand's supplies run out. 

"We've taken the decision that we'd rather have vaccines in people's arms than waiting in fridges," he said.

Tuesday is D-Day when we'll get down to our last vials and when Pfizer is due to deliver another 150,000 doses.

Getting doses in arms is more vital than ever as new modelling shows to protect against the viral Delta variant, almost the entire country - 97 percent of New Zealanders (including teenagers and infants) - will need a jab.

Until we reach that point, we'll still need controls - like alert levels, managed isolation and masks.

"I'm not going to settle for any target less than everybody being offered the chance to get the vaccine," Hipkins said.

But offering the vaccine does not mean needles in arms.

"I think it's highly unlikely we'll get to 97 percent [of Kiwis vaccinated] if you look at the number of people refusing to get a vaccine."

New Zealand's first line of defence also still has gaping holes. Of the 11,500 border workers who are supposed to be vaccinated - just 83 percent are, a further 3 percent have only had their first dose and 14 percent (1600 people) still haven't had a single jab.

But Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said many of these people are only at the sites "fleetingly" as part of their work.

The Government is considering extending the mandatory vaccination border order to all frontline border workers, including the ports - and its hundreds of different companies employing thousands of workers.

But the independent chair of New Zealand port companies' CEOs' group, Charles Finny, says some workers are reluctant to get vaccinated for personal and medical reasons.

He's warning mandatory vaccines could jeopardise the workforce.

"Some of those people are in essential jobs and they're very difficult to replace."

But if the Delta variant of COVID-19 comes to New Zealand any lives lost will be impossible to replace.