Vaccination target vital to avoiding future lockdowns

New Zealand needs to set a 70-75 per cent target of vaccination of the eligible population to avoid future countrywide lockdowns, says Leader of the Opposition Judith Collins.

“It is now clear that the Delta variant of Covid-19 got into the country through Managed Isolation and Quarantine. It’s another troubling development and one which means we are now under Level 4 restrictions once again.

“Kiwis are again having to make serious sacrifice.

“While vaccination rates are increasing, they remain perilously slow – three-quarters of the current eligible population is unvaccinated.

“New Zealand was not prepared for the arrival of Delta because Labour has failed to show the urgency on vaccination that Kiwis deserve.

“The United Kingdom, United States, Israel, France, Germany, Singapore and many others have all set the bar with vaccination rates above 60 per cent of their population. New Zealand remains the slowest in the developed world.

“Many of our frontline workers are having to turn up to their jobs without vaccination – 35% of port workers are still totally unvaccinated and more than 3,000 Auckland hospital workers have yet to have a single dose. Many of our essential workers in shops and supermarkets are yet to be vaccinated.

“The only way to keep Kiwis safe and avoid the social and financial cost of future lockdowns is to set a vaccinate target and to vaccinate Kiwis with urgency.

“The Labour Government has not prepared New Zealand for the present or the future. The Covid Recovery Fund has been used for things that aren’t related to Covid and now there’s precious little left to support Kiwis through the current lockdown.

“We’ll likely be forced to borrow more, putting the country further into debt. In the meantime, saliva testing still hasn’t been rolled out despite being recommended urgently a year ago, rapid antigen tests are actually banned in New Zealand, and there has been little investment in extra ICU and ventilator capacity.

“New Zealanders are doing their part. It’s time now that the Government stepped up and did the same.

“A target of 70-75 per cent vaccination to avoid future lockdowns and the cost that this imposes on every New Zealander is now not just urgent – it’s imperative.”