The most recent MIQ worker who tested positive for Covid-19 was also not vaccinated. It comes amid revelations that 20 percent of border staff have not had the injection protecting them from the coronavirus.
With much speculation surrounding the launch of a vaccine in New Zealand, the New Zealand Herald is looking for answers to burning questions about how and when you will get vaccinated.
1. When will you be vaccinated?
For the most part
the general public, exactly when you will be vaccinated is unclear. Currently, border workers and MIQ, frontline workers at high risk and people living in high risk areas are being vaccinated.
Starting May, people who are at serious risk of getting sick from the virus – Kiwis aged 65 or over, people with disabilities, pregnant women, those with underlying health conditions and prisoners – will be vaccinated before injections are delivered to the general public. starting July, with the goal of achieving herd immunity by the end of the year.
How soon most people will be able to receive the injection after July has passed, and it is unclear who in the general public will get vaccinated first. Will there be a waiting list? Will this be a first-come, first-served system?
Immunization Advisory Center medical adviser Peter McIntyre said the specifics of when the majority of Kiwis will receive the injections are not known. However, he is relatively confident that the year-end target can be achieved.
“I think it’s potentially doable but you don’t want it to happen at the expense of other things on the side of the road.”
However, McIntyre was quick to note the launch would be an “unprecedented” logistical challenge and hiccups are bound to occur, potentially delaying the current schedule.
2. Where will you be vaccinated?
There are many options proposed for vaccination centers, including those in general practice, pharmacies and mass injection sites.
Other options exist at work but businesses haven’t learned how this can happen.
The Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA) represents about one million employees at 8000 employers in northern Taupō. EMA’s work relations and safety manager, Paul Jarvie, said he had not heard of any discussions with businesses around workplace vaccination programs.
However, he hopes that the Government will realize how to run a vaccination program in the workplace by including varied working hours.
“I thought [the Government] have to really be aware of the modern workplace, not just 8am – 5pm, “he said.
“What it does is reduce barriers for people to get vaccinated.”
He encouraged employers to start vaccine conversations with employees and warned them to watch out for discrimination against those who were reluctant to accept injections.
Speaking to Mike Hosking of Newstalk ZB on Thursday last week, Royal New Zealand College of General Practice medical director Bryan Betty said there was uncertainty in the GP community surrounding the vaccine launch.
However, he believes the launch should be a collaborative effort between providers, so as not to overwhelm common practice.
“General practice alone can’t do this, mass vaccination centers can’t do this, it needs a combination.”
3. How many vaccinations have been given and how many are left?
As of April 6, 90,286 doses have been administered – 71,013 the first dose and 19,273 the second dose. These figures are updated weekly at Ministry of Health vaccine data site.
As of April 7, there are 287,220 doses of Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine available for distribution. According to a spokesman for the Ministry of Health, about 3 percent of vaccines have been dumped across the country.
However, the spokesperson noted this was lower than expected thanks to DHB extracting six doses per bottle, one more than the five originally estimated.
4. How many vaccinations are there?
A Ministry of Health spokesperson confirmed that on April 7, 763 vaccinators had given injections and in 1843 had completed the online training of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccines from the Immunization Advisory Center (IMAC).
This includes people from New Zealand’s regular vaccination workforce (about 5,400) as well as some of the roughly 4,000 endorsed provisional vaccinators who have completed IMAC’s provisional vaccination foundation course, which was launched in May last year.
There are 1,600 pharmacists and about 3,800 doctors across the country who can support the launch.
Vaccination expert Helen Petousis-Harris says the number of vaccinators has been difficult to access in the past, but hopes there is enough spread around New Zealand.
McIntyre believes the workforce has strengthened significantly since the start of this year.
“I know that things are going well in the training and recruiting package.”
5. Is a “bad event” from the vaccine a good sign?
In a report by New Zealand’s drug safety authority Medsafe, there were 147 reports of “side effects” after vaccination. The most common ones include dizziness, headache, nausea and fainting.
Three of the 147 accounts were taken seriously, but none involved hospitalization.
Health director general Dr Ashley Bloomfield said in a media update last week that people who have had an allergic reaction to a previous vaccine or have a wider range of allergies to drugs or food are more likely to experience side effects.
He said he expects people in that category to have kōrero with their GP about how they should be vaccinated.
McIntyre said it was a good sign to see such reactions emerge.
“This is all evidence that your immune system is working well and that means you are getting a good response from the vaccine and you will likely get good protection as a result.”
However, he acknowledged the risk of serious health implications from vaccination. Discussions are still continuing around the AstraZeneca vaccine after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said last week it had found a possible link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and rare blood clots.
McIntyre said people in countries with high Covid rates should still consider taking the vaccine given the comparable health risks from the virus and the rarity of blood clots.