Vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate to avoid lockdowns

While National welcomes the Prime Minister’s recognition that lockdowns can be avoided if we get as many people as possible vaccinated, we continue to call on her to be honest with New Zealand and give us the conditions for when this can occur, National’s Covid-19 Response spokesperson Chris Bishop says.

“When the current outbreak occurred New Zealand had the slowest vaccine rollout in the OECD. This meant that Delta spread faster and that our current lockdown is longer than it would have been if we hadn’t been so slow at vaccinating our population.

“The modelling is very clear. Every extra person vaccinated brings us a step closer to avoiding economically and socially costly lockdowns. Auckland is in our longest lockdown yet because the Labour Government did not put New Zealand first by making sure as many New Zealanders were vaccinated as quickly as possible.

“The Prime Minister repeatedly said during the first half of the year that New Zealand did not need to vaccinate quickly because we were in a different situation to other countries, ignoring the reality that this situation was always likely to change.

“Aucklanders are now paying the consequences of the Government’s decision to roll out our vaccine slowly, in the form of a long Level 4 lockdown, because it is more difficult to stamp out Delta with a largely unvaccinated population.  

“It’s great the Prime Minister is acknowledging we can avoid lockdowns by vaccinating more people faster. But it’s not enough to just say lockdowns will end when as many people as possible have been vaccinated.

“Frankly, this could mean anything – what is ‘as many people as possible’ as a percentage?

“The Government should immediately set the target of 70-75 per cent of New Zealanders vaccinated to avoid any further nationwide lockdowns.

“At this level of vaccination, we can stamp out Covid by using tools and techniques widely available in other counties, such as saliva testing, rapid antigen testing, aggressive contact tracing and if necessary, regional lockdowns as a last resort.

“The Prime Minister needs to be honest with New Zealand and spell out exactly how and when she plans to stop using nationwide lockdowns.”