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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has revealed details on how Kiwis will be able to book their Covid-19 vaccinations through a national system ahead of the general public rollout.
Ardern and Director-of-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield fronted a news conference at 12.30pm today to explain who will be first in line to get a vaccine when the general public rollout begins from the end of July, and how people can navigate the system which had been trialled in certain regions.
The Prime Minister called on the "team of five million" to do their part in the vaccine rollout, just as they have done in the different Covid 19 lockdowns.
"This is about whānau, looking out for each other and ensuring everyone is safe."
She urged people to get vaccinated, saying: "Do it for those you love".
Ardern said the vaccination programme started by targeting those at high risk, including front line workers at the border.
Other higher risk groups including those aged 65 or over were also continuing to get vaccinated.
The country was nearing completing 1 million vaccine doses, she said.
From the end of July, New Zealand would enter a new phase of the progamme when the country received the bulk of its vaccines. That would allow the programme to broaden "considerably", she said.
While more vaccines were coming, they wouldn't all arrive at once, but most should be in the country by the end of October, Ardern said. They would come in weekly shipments and that meant the vaccine programme would be staggered.
When you can get a jab
The rollout would start by working from the oldest members of the population down to younger members, with priority for the over 65s.
"We've landed on age bands because it is the simplest process used overseas," Ardern said.
And also because people were generally at greater risk the older they were.
When the vaccine programme reached each new phase and age band, those within the age band would receive an invitation.
- The first age band is people aged 60 years and over, starting from July 28.
- The next age band will be those aged 55 and over, starting on August 11.
- Those aged 35 and over will be from mid-September, while everyone else will follow in age bands from October.
The online invitation would guide people through the process of how to book their vaccine. There would also be a phone line service for those that did not wish to use online services.
People would be asked to complete their second jab within three weeks of receiving their first and this was different to many other parts of the world, Ardern said.
"Everyone will have the chance to be vaccinated."
Those worried their details were not up to date could visit a government website from the end of July to correct their details and that would ensure they got their invite for a vaccination.
The Ministry of Health was also looking to work with big companies to roll out vaccine programmes. Companies such as Fonterra and Mainfreight had already indicated they were willing to assist.
There would also be cases like at the Chatham Islands where it made sense to vaccinate everyone at once.
Huge undertaking, says Bloomfield
Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said the rollout of the vaccine was a huge undertaking for the health system.
The first dose was administered four-and-a-half months ago. It took under seven weeks to deliver the first 100,000 doses but now 100,000 doses were being delivered a week.
The health system wanted to ramp this up to more than 300,000 per week.
Bloomfield said the distribution networks reached throughout New Zealand, including the Chatham Islands where vaccinations would start at the end of the month.
People will be able to book through the Book My Vaccine website.
"Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for people across New Zealand to book their vaccine," he said.
After people are vaccinated their information will be sent to their GP.
The website has been tested to ensure it was up to the task, Bloomfield said.
However, there were challenges and so the health system was rolling out the Book My Vaccine database to different DHBs at different times.
There was currently 26,000 active vaccine bookings in the new system.
"I personally encourage anyone who is eligible to book themselves in for the Covid 19 vaccine when it is there turn," he said.
He said the high interest in being vaccinated was very positive. "Together we can protect those most at risk in our communities."
Today's announcement comes after multiple reports of issues with current booking systems, specifically in Auckland.
On Wednesday, The New Zealand Herald reported stories of people's records being lost after their first vaccination, centres being booked out until August and people waiting up to eight weeks between their two doses.
There are no new cases of Covid-19 to report in the community in New Zealand today and two new cases to report in recent returnees in managed isolation facilities, the Ministry of Health said in a statement this afternoon.