Coronavirus: Vaccine rollout in 'shambles' as first mass vaccination event due to begin - Judith Collins

National Party leader Judith Collins says the Government's COVID-19 vaccine rollout is a "shambles" and it has "no idea" how to get jabs in New Zealanders' arms.

Health authorities struggled to fill this weekend's mass vaccination event in Manukau, with fewer than a quarter of those initially invited signing up to fill the 15,000 slots. It took another 140,000 invites to Aucklanders - some not in priority groups or even from the south Auckland area - to book it out.

Collins says this weekend's event shows the "debacle" the Government's vaccine rollout has been.

"Their bright idea was to bus vulnerable people in south Auckland to the events centre in Manukau to get the jab.

"It's no surprise the initial take up was so pathetic that the invitation had to be extended beyond the target group to get the numbers up.

"This is about medical treatment - not a day out at a rugby match. What the people of south Auckland and the rest of New Zealand want is the opportunity to get their vaccination from people they trust, like their local GP or pharmacist, in the communities where they live."

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she wasn't concerned about the struggle to get people on board.

"This is our first mass vaccination event, so we've really been running it as a trial. Part of that trial is finding the best way to reach people. Not everyone necessarily is going to respond to something they receive through their mailbox," she said.

"We are thinking about different ways that we can communicate a mass vaccination event. But the important thing is we are now a little oversubscribed for the event, which was intentional, and this will help us learn for future events." 

When announced in mid-July, co-organiser Manukau Institute of Technology said the event would remove "barriers to accessibility for Māori, Pasifika and our south Auckland community", but would also "help inform the planning of future events".  

Jacinda Ardern.
Jacinda Ardern. Photo credit: The AM Show

Asked if the event, to be held at the Vodafone Events Centre, was a "cultural fail", Ardern said no.

"As I say, this is our first mass vaccination event. We've got over 15,000 people booked for the event. We'll learn from this one… see what worked well, what do we need to do differently to attract in those that we really want to make sure that we're targeting.

"But it is a first, and so we always intended to learn as we go. We're certainly not writing off an event that hasn't happened yet."

But Collins believes the Government is pushing ahead with "a staged-managed media opportunity" rather than an "actual medical service".

"It comes as no surprise to anyone - except, it seems, the Government - that we're still last in the OECD for vaccinations, that half of our DHBs don't know who has been vaccinated, and that we're starting Group 4 when we've barely started Group 3," she says.

So far, 1,759,154 total doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been administered in New Zealand. This is made up of 1,059,685 first doses and 699,469 second doses.

In terms of group 3, 382,382 have received their first dose and 217,241 have been given their second. There are approximately 1.7 million people in this group and 2 million in group 4, who are now formally included in the rollout.