The government has been urged to speed up the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccination, given the increased risk of the new variant destroying Britain and South Africa.
The National Party wants front-line workers, such as those working in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facilities, to get the vaccine as soon as possible.
Party leader Judith Collins wants the Government to consider provisions for vaccines for emergency use for important border workers “before it’s too late”.
“New Zealand has fallen behind the rest of the world with its vaccine program and the Government needs to explain why,” said Collins.
The government has been approached for comment.
Yesterday, the Health Ministry revealed that there had been 31 new imported Covid-19 cases since Thursday – all in managed isolation.
He also revealed that so far 19 cases were linked to a new, fast-spreading strain that has spread in Britain.
“The number of cases reinforces the need for vigilance that is ongoing at the border, as Covid-19 continues to increase overseas,” the Health Ministry said.
But Collins said more than ongoing vigilance was needed to protect New Zealanders.
“It is imperative that we start vaccinating border workers and people working in managed isolation facilities as quickly as possible.”
He pointed out that the Australian Government recently launched a Covid-19 vaccine launch. Health workers, border personnel and elderly residents are at the front of the queue.
Collins wants the New Zealand Government to follow in Australia’s footsteps.
“The Kiwi is rightly asking why Australia 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.”
According to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, the Covid-19 vaccine will be freely available to everyone in New Zealand by the middle of this year.
But border staff and rescue workers are at the front of the queue and will get vaccines faster than anyone else.
He said the mass vaccination program would be New Zealand’s largest immunization launch in history.
“We are moving as quickly as possible, but we also want to make sure the vaccine is safe for New Zealanders.
He said the government had reached agreements with a number of pharmaceutical companies.
The agreement guarantees access to 7.6 million doses of AstraZeneca, enough for 3.8 million people, and 10.72 million doses of Novavax, enough for 5.36 million people.
Both vaccines require two doses to be administered.