National calls for vaccine rollout to be fast-tracked

National is calling on the Government to accelerate the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines in New Zealand, in light of the new highly-infectious UK and South African variants that are threatening our borders, Leader of the Opposition Judith Collins says.

“It is critical we start vaccinating border workers and people working in managed isolation facilities as quickly as possible. They are the frontline of our Covid-19 response.”

With 31 cases of imported Covid-19 reported in MIQ on Sunday, and variants found in the UK and South Africa now spreading around the world, speed is now of the essence when it comes to New Zealand’s Covid-19 vaccination programme, Ms Collins says.

Australia recently brought forward its vaccine rollout, with health workers, border personnel and aged-care residents at the front of the queue.

“New Zealand has fallen behind the rest of the world with its vaccine programme and the Government needs to explain why,” Ms Collins says.

“Kiwis are rightly asking why Australia has plans to vaccinate four million people by the end of March while New Zealand won’t start vaccinating the general public until at least July.

“Experts have warned a level 4 lockdown could be needed if the new virus strains get into the community. New Zealand should consider ‘emergency use’ vaccine provisions, like other countries have, for our essential border workers before it is too late.”