Major IT scandal raises questions about vaccine roll out

National’s spokesperson for Covid-19 Response Chris Bishop has this evening released further details of a major IT scandal, raising serious questions about the Government’s Covid-19 vaccine roll out.

“Last night I was contacted by two individuals who told me they had raised with the Minister of Health and the Ministry of Health earlier that evening that there was a potential data privacy breach within the booking system being used for household contacts to book their Covid-19 vaccination.

“People accessing the system were able to pull the national health numbers of people, their cell phone numbers, emails and dates of birth.

“I immediately alerted Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins.

“This afternoon the Ministry of Health described the issue as a ‘coding error’ affecting just the Canterbury DHB, but the situation is far worse than the Ministry has publicly admitted to.

“My understanding from talking to the people who raised the initial alarm is that:

  • The system was so poorly designed that people could log in, pretend to be a vaccinator, alter patient records (such as marking people as having been vaccinated), change their appointment times (including in the past), and even attempt to claim funding from the Ministry of Health for completing a vaccination.
  • The system appears to have been built by Valentia Technologies.
  • The same booking system was due to be rolled-out to Wairarapa, Capital Coast, Taranaki, West Coast, Hutt Valley and Mid-Central District Health Boards, not just Canterbury as the Ministry has said.

“There are serious questions for the Government to answer from this scandal:

  • What access, if any, did the company who built the system have to private patient data?
  • Why are DHBs hiring IT companies to provide booking systems for the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out?
  • Why wasn’t the system tested before it went live?
  • Where is the nationwide Covid-19 booking system at, and why isn’t it ready to go?
  • Is the Valentia Tech system actually the nationwide booking system?

“The Government’s vaccine roll out is looking like a shambles. Three of the four necessary IT systems aren’t ready to go and the idea of vaccinating 2 million people from July onwards is looking like a pipe dream.

“We need much greater openness and transparency from the Government about what has happened here.”