OAG issues stark warning on vaccine roll out

The Auditor-General’s audit of the government’s vaccine roll-out presents a very worrying picture of a lack of progress and significant concerns about whether it will achieve its goals at all, says National’s COVID-19 Response Spokesperson Chris Bishop.

The Auditor-General states that he is “not yet confident that all of the pieces will fall into place quickly enough for the immunisation programme to reach the level of vaccinations required for the Government to meet its goals…there is a real risk that it will take more time than is currently anticipated to get there”.

“This summation backs up what National have been saying since the beginning of the year. This vaccine roll-out has been slow by international standards, has lacked transparency and direction, faces significant workforce challenges, and does not have IT systems in place,” says Mr Bishop.

“While National has relentlessly advocated for better ways to approach the roll-out, the Government has consistently gas-lit New Zealanders with pretend graphs, revisionism of previous statements, and attempts to hide a shoddy plan at best.”

“The COVID-19 vaccine roll-out is one of the most important things the Government will do this year, possibly this decade. We must get it right. This cannot be yet another thing this Government has announced, but fails to deliver on.

“It is important the government takes on board the six sensible recommendations made by the Auditor-General.

“National will be asking Parliament’s Health Committee to bring the Auditor-General and his officials in for a full briefing on this important report.”

The Auditor-General has found:

  • Although nearly 400,000 vaccine doses have been administered, a “significant scale-up is still required to achieve the Government’s overall goals”.

  • Currently, the plan to scale-up has “not yet been fully developed” and “the critical path had only recently been identified”.

  • District health boards are still working out how they will organise aspects of the vaccine roll-out in their communities. Some are apparently “well-positioned” but “others have a lot of work to do”.

  • Information systems are still being developed.

  • Many in the wider health and disability sector are still not clear about what their role will be or when they will know.

  • Although a lot of thought has been given to ensure that everyone (Māori and Pasifika communities in particular) can access the vaccine in a way that meets their social, linguistic, and cultural needs, it is not yet clear whether this will be fully achieved.

  • There are substantial risks around having enough trained vaccinators and establishing distribution and inventory management systems that will get vaccines to the right place in the right quantities at the right time, while minimising wastage.