Wellington Scoop

Waiting to be vaccinated

by Lindsay Shelton
A consignment of 370,000 Pfizer doses arrived in New Zealand yesterday. But it’s hard to believe that this will do much to reduce the evident shortage of vaccines in Wellington, where our health board said two weeks ago it was preparing to vaccinate 200,000 people.

Preparing, no doubt. But to vaccinate, it needs vaccines. And for the 200,000 people who are in group 3 in the Wellington region – that’s a total of 400,000 doses.

Yesterday’s delivery was being shared between 119 vaccination centres throughout the country. So the obvious go-slow in Wellington is likely to continue till more promised “big deliveries” arrive, including 1.5million in August.

All a bit invidious when there seems to be more progress vaccinating people of all ages outside Wellington.

Friends in New York tell me that vaccinations are readily available from drug stores – just walk in for a shot, no appointment needed.

Unlike the Wellington situation where earlier this month Group 3 people were texted with the news they must wait to be invited to apply for a vaccination appointment.

Friends in Auckland tell me they didn’t wait for their invitation. They went to vaccination centres, asked for their jabs, and got what they wanted.

And a Scoop reader sent this message: Many central Wellington residents are going out to the Hutt with its two well-organised vaccination centres that are taking bookings.

While it was originally announced that Group 3 vaccinations (for everyone aged 65 and over) would take place before Group 4 (everyone aged 16 and over) there are now examples of some districts going ahead with all ages. In Whanganui for example.

The confusion also extends to definitions of the four groups being vaccinated. Group 3 was originally defined as people 65 and over. But a recent Health Ministry announcement said its new online vaccination booking system will allow anyone aged 60 or over to apply for vaccination from the end of this month. Then people 55 and over would be contacted, and so on, working backwards through bracketed age groups.

The CCDHB website claims that Group 3 people are already being vaccinated in Wellington. A few no doubt. But as comments from Scoop readers have been showing, most Wellington people are waiting, and waiting, with a level of anxiety. And without information about where the city’s vaccination centres will be based.

So there’s ten days remaining for the CCDHB to deliver on its promise that all 200,000 people in Group 3 will have an invitation to book a vaccination by the end of the month. All clear? That’s not a promise that vaccinations will be carried out this month. The best we are being offered is an invitation to book a vaccination, with the hope that the new online system will be doing its job in a user-friendly way. And that a vaccination will be booked, and then delivered. Before the end of the year.

UPDATE 20 July: Success at last

vaccine rollout


  1. GrahamCA, 19. July 2021, 18:54

    So if the booking website is going live nationwide for Group 4 on 28 July, presumably this means CCDHB are planning for everyone in Group 3 to use the same site and finishup behind thousands of younger residents who register that day.

    Outstanding management planning again. Thank God the Children’s Hospital is not being delivered by CCDHB management.

  2. Michael Gibson, 19. July 2021, 19:42

    I will only repeat what Minister Hipkins solemnly told the House at about 2.40 p.m. on Tuesday July 5th (as recorded by Hansard): “In terms of communicating with people in group 3 about when they can expect to be booked in for a vaccine, as is now well-canvassed, notifications around that went out last week.” The rest of the time he simply says “We are ahead of schedule” without ever revealing what the schedule is.

  3. TrevorH, 19. July 2021, 21:50

    Out our way our wonderful pharmacy tells us they have seven trained vaccinators but haven’t been asked to help. As a group 3 member with asthma I haven’t received any communication from the CCDHB or our medical practice. I am not impressed.

  4. Wendy, 20. July 2021, 0:45

    As I have previously commented, I am really concerned about the inner-city neighbourhood (Wellington Central/Te Aro) as it is now the suburb with the largest population in Wellington, yet it has been completely overlooked by CCDHB and the government as far the vaccine roll out is concerned.

    The inner-city is also a higher-risk physical environment than most other suburbs as many residents live in vertical streets (high rise apartments) with shared lift access. And they share their environment with tourists (one who recently was infectious), visitors, as well as the business, government, and hospitality sectors.

    The CCDHB claims that over-65s are being vaccinated in Wellington. Where? Certainly not the inner-city. All the people I know in the inner-city over-65 who have had the vaccine, have been vaccinated out of Wellington. The rest are still waiting. So why is it not happening? Why do we not have a large-scale vaccination centre in the city? Why can’t we get a straight answer from those in power? To date attempts to communicate with CCDHB and the government regarding this situation have been ignored. It is not good enough and, as over-65 inner-city dwellers wait weeks and watch people younger than them get vaccinated, they have every right to feel abandoned.

  5. TK (Tania Kelly) Roxborogh, 20. July 2021, 9:50

    Who the heck is responsible for the huge inconsistencies around the vaccination roll out? How is it that I (and my whānau) as Māori are getting ours (CDHB) on Wed but my mother – WDHB – (who refuses to list herself as Māori but is 77) hasn’t yet got hers? [via twitter]

  6. Trish, 20. July 2021, 10:12

    I’ve just been visiting the Karori Mall. The chemist there has a sign out saying they are administering Covid vaccines. No appointment needed. (You mis-read the sign – the chemist confirms they are administering only flu shots.)

  7. Joolz, 20. July 2021, 10:43

    The inconsistencies are due to two factors.

    1. External supply
    Pfizer made the decision not to license generic versions of the vaccine around the world, because they stand to make enormous profits, so we are relying on a single provider. There is nothing we can do to change that. Biden keeps saying he will, but money talks. As a first world country, we are relatively well off compared to other, poorer countries.

    2. Internal inefficiency
    Our decision to effectively privatise our public health system during the 1990s (thank you Alan Gibb) means that the government has no control over how the individual DHBs choose to implement their vaccine rollout. Remember all that talk about “choice” and “local” decision-making? This pandemic is going to change that scenario considerably I suspect with its inefficiencies being ruthlessly exposed.

  8. Harold Rodd, 20. July 2021, 11:31

    Trish, the pharmacy is for flu vaccines only.
    The other place in the Mall (the Covid off-shoot of the Karori Medical Centre) is closed at the moment but the sign is not totally without hope: “Appointments only. No walk-in appointments today.”
    However, the Medical Centre says that this is misleading. I hope this all helps.

  9. Dave, 20. July 2021, 13:18

    Most states in America have reached peak vax, most of the places that distribute the vax are empty because everyone that wants one has already got it and I think they are struggling to get to 60% of the population, the same will happen here as most of the young people I have talked to will not be getting it and I am in my 50s and will join them. I hope the media and government will not persecute us for putting our lives before the many and respect our decisions.

  10. greenwelly, 20. July 2021, 15:01

    Dave, the under 16s (only recently targeted) are around 20% of the US population. The 60s/80s have a 75% take up. I think NZ will get a take up of around 80% by the end of the year…

  11. Joolz, 20. July 2021, 15:24

    What’s “peak vax” Dave? Seems you’re basing your decision on anecdote not science.

  12. Claire, 20. July 2021, 15:24

    Dave: You are putting the rest of us at risk.

  13. Dave, 20. July 2021, 16:52

    Claire, If you mix science and politics, what do you get? the answer is politics.
    Joolz, I based my decision on what Joe Biden is saying so yes you are correct.

  14. Scoop, 20. July 2021, 17:24

    Southern DHB is today celebrating administering 100,000 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine across Otago and Southland, from over 30 vaccination clinics, which are to be increased to a peak of 120.

  15. greenwelly, 20. July 2021, 19:31

    Gotta love health bureaucrats celebrating going slower. As at 11 July, Southern had injected 92,932 and had been injecting over 8,000 for each of the previous two weeks and over 9,000 for each of the two weeks before that. To reach 100,000 from 92,932 is only 7,068 … and it’s taken them 9 or 10 days.

  16. CCDHB and HVDHB, 21. July 2021, 9:13

    Thanks to the hundreds of hard working staff across our region who have helped us reach the milestone of 100,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine delivered. Working in cooperation with Primary Health Organisations, Māori and Pacific health providers, and community pharmacists, our programme continues to track ahead of where we’d planned to be at this point in the year. This week, we’re opening new clinics right across our region, including many at medical centres. These will start vaccinating Group 3, before moving on to Group 4. With increased capacity, our numbers will also increase, and we look forward to reaching more milestones soon. [via twitter]

  17. Meredith, 21. July 2021, 9:28

    What’s a ‘milestone’? Is it like ‘we are ahead of schedule?’
    How many schedules? How many milestones?

  18. Claire, 21. July 2021, 10:10

    It can be easy to blame politics if you think things are effecting you. I think NZ has done very well with very few deaths. But vaccination rates are VERY important. Prof Michael Baker, Sean Hendry, MS Wiles, and the PM’s science advisor have all provided science based advice and it has been taken. The vaccine rollout is not yet great but that’s more down to DHBs doing different things. Roll on health reform.

  19. Wendy, 21. July 2021, 10:46

    Great to see CCDHB’s comments, so can they please advise, when planning the initial vaccine roll-out, did they:

    1. Recognise that the inner-city (Wellington/Te Aro) is now the most populated suburb in Wellington.
    2. Consider the heightened risk factors associated with this community living in vertical streets with shared lift access to go to and from their homes.
    3. Consider the risks associated with the inner-city residents having to share their neighbourhood with tourists, visitors, and the business, hospitality and government sectors? They have already had one tourist generated covid scare.

    If so, why was an inner-city vaccination centre not opened weeks ago, where (as in the Hutt and many other places) the residents could make a booking and get vaccinated. [Just discovered, a new vaccination centre in Kilbirnie.]

  20. Katie, 21. July 2021, 11:36

    In Group 3. Yesterday afternoon I finally got the text to invite me to make a booking. The website AND phone number on the text were both invalid. A Facebook message to CCHDHB got a quick reply, the correct webpage, an apology, and they said another text would be sent out today with the correct details. But that was after going through a great deal of difficulty just establishing that said contacts were wrong, and the site just hadn’t crashed from overuse. And at one point even being told the texts were sent out in error, thus adding to the confusion!

    (The correction and apology text has literally just come through as I type, so they got that bit right!)

    In the meantime, I was able to get my appointments booked with a suburban pharmacy for next week. But I’m still furious at the appalling communication, both from CCDHB and the Govt spin. [And more: waiting no longer.]

  21. D'Esterre, 21. July 2021, 13:51

    Joolz: “…. we are relatively well off compared to other, poorer countries.” Last I looked, NZ remains at the bottom of the OECD list of countries for percentage of the population vaccinated. Behind even Australia.

    “Our decision to effectively privatise our public health system during the 1990s (thank you Alan Gibb)…” I was working in the health sector then. It was the CHEs: user-pays, funder-provider split and all that. Alan Gibb was responsible for the recommendation, but it was the then government which implemented the system. Simon Upton, as I recall. The CHEs were disestablished by the Clark government after it came to power in 1999. Then the DHBs were established. That model would work well, if they’d been properly-funded.

    The delays with the vaccine rollout in Wellington can be sheeted home to DHB underfunding and resulting lack of resources.

    Claire: health reform will not fix what ails the health sector. A bucket load of extra funding is what’s needed.

  22. RNZ, 21. July 2021, 14:02

    Chris Hipkins says more than 1,553,000 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine have now been given in New Zealand, an increase of 148,000 doses on last week – the new weekly high. A new daily high of 30,358 doses was reached yesterday. More than 628,000 New Zealanders have had their second dose, including 180,000 people in group 3. “The Ministry of Health will be working with all DHBs to make sure that they are getting everybody in group three into the booking system in the next few days.”

  23. Greenwelly, 21. July 2021, 16:03

    1.5 million doses is still at the bottom of the OECD (30%) while 628,000 is 12.5% of the population fully vaccinated… not great numbers. But 1.9 million doses before the end of August would bring us up to 3.4 million, or 68% – likely probably a 40% first dose / 30% fully…still not wonderful.