Covid 19 coronavirus: Covid Response Minister Chris Hipkins provides vaccine update

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins will this afternoon provide an update on how the Government’s vaccination campaign is faring so far.

He will be joined by the head of managed isolation and quarantine, Brigadier Jim Bliss.

Usually, director general of health Ashley Bloomfield joins Hipkins for these updates.

But, as he told a select committee this morning, he is working from home today as he has a “bit of a head cold”.

As well as providing more vaccine information, Hipkins will also provide a general Covid-19 update which will include if there are any new cases in managed isolation.

The 1pm briefing comes after Bloomfield briefed MPs at the health select committee this morning.

He said he was “confident and can reassure New Zealanders” that the workforce to administer the Covid vaccine rollout will be ready.

The Government’s vaccine safety campaign, he said, had a “soft launch” this weekend and would be ramped up soon.

He added that the Ministry of Health would “absolutely” approach the likes of All Blacks and other sports stars to help with the campaign.

The campaign would be focused on using “trusted” members of the public who can talk up the science and safety of the vaccines.

This comes as the Act Party continues to put pressure on the Government over its vaccination campaign.

Leader David Seymour pointed out that figures from Bloomberg show that so far, New Zealand has so far administered 18,000 Covid-19 vaccinations.

Australia, on the other hand, is now up to more than 161,800.

“The difference in the two vaccine rollouts is one country was ready, with a plan, and one country wasn’t. It’s that simple,” he said.

“New Zealanders deserve better.”

Meanwhile Nikki Turner, the director of the Immunisation Advisory Centre, briefed MPs on the Pfizer vaccine this morning.

Turner identified the logistics of the rollout as one of the big challenges for New Zealand, including moves to ensure people felt it was safe.

She said she did not believe concern about the vaccine was as widespread as many believed – and said the term “vaccine hesitancy” was not very useful, saying different people needed different information to make up their minds.

She did not want to set a target for herd immunity – rather, New Zealand should be striving for the highest level possible.

“There is unlikely to be a magic number.”

But she warned that Covid-19 would keep coming into New Zealand, adding that the vaccine was not “a magic bullet”.

Turner said “many more thousands” of people are ready to be trained to give Covid vaccinations.

There were two new cases of Covid-19 in managed isolation yesterday.

And, again, there were no new cases of Covid-19 in the community.

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