COVID-19: ACT's David Seymour mocks pace of vaccination rollout as Ashley Bloomfield hails booking system a 'resounding success'

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield has hailed the first day of the national COVID-19 vaccine booking system a "resounding success" - but ACT isn't convinced the Government is on track. 

"This Government is not prepared, it's not a vaccine roll out, it's a vaccine stroll out," ACT leader David Seymour said after medicine regulator Medsafe finally gave AstraZeneca conditional approval for New Zealand

"The total lack of preparation for Medsafe's approval of the AstraZeneca vaccine is another example of a Government that is always reactive, never proactive in relation to COVID," Seymour added. 

"Janssen was approved more than three weeks ago and now AstraZeneca has also been approved. The Government needs to be transparent about its plans for using the vaccines."

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health chief is celebrating the first day of the national vaccine booking system being up and running, with 950,000 bookings made so far. 

"This really demonstrates that our teams throughout the country are working to our plan as they ramp up the delivery of vaccines to New Zealanders," Dr Bloomfield said. 

"This isn't just about the health system - it's New Zealanders responding together. It's really heartening to see that everyone is playing their part to protect themselves, their whânau and the whole country."

It comes after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Wednesday invited Kiwis aged 60 and above to book their vaccinations - the first time Group 4, the final eligibility cohort, had been invited to get a jab since the rollout began. 

Group 4 is big - comprising more than 2 million people - so it has been broken down by age bands. The first band is people aged 60 and over, who can now book jabs by clicking here or by phoning 0800 28 29 26. 

So far, more than 1.8 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been administered in New Zealand, while almost 700,000 have received their second dose, meaning they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. That group now includes Ardern herself

Ardern said 350,000 doses arrived in New Zealand on Tuesday, bringing total deliveries for July to 1 million, with 1.5 million more due to arrive in August. 

National leader Judith Collins described the rollout a "shambles", pointing to low initial take-up of the mass vaccination event planned for this weekend in south Auckland.  

"The whole thing has been a shambles," Collins said. "If Australia's vaccine rollout has been so bad that their PM had to apologise, ours should do the same, given the Aussies are actually ahead of us."

Collins was referring to the Australian Prime Minister apologising for the rate of vaccination in his country as New South Wales battles its worst outbreak yet, with more than 200 new cases reported on Thursday. 

"I'm sorry that we haven't been able to achieve the marks that we had hoped for at the beginning of this year," Morrison told a press conference. "Of course, I am."

Seymour echoed Collins, saying: "If Scott Morrison can be the bigger person and apologise for delivering 25 percent better results than New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern should apologise too."

International data shows Australia is ahead of New Zealand. But Ardern said on Wednesday she had no intention of apologising. 

"Right at the beginning of the year we said that this would be the year of the vaccine campaign; that this would be the largest undertaking of our health system around a vaccination that we have ever seen, and so far we are running according to our plans," Ardern said. 

"I'm really proud of the work our health professionals have done. Those who have been vaccinated know how well they are doing on the ground. Our focus now has to be - right through to the end of the year - getting as many people vaccinated as possible."

Dr Bloomfield is asking Kiwis who aren't yet eligible for a jab to register their details to speed up the process. 

"Once bookings are open for your age group you will be sent an email or text letting you know it's time to reserve your spot."