Auckland should receive each of the government-insured 250,000 extra doses of Pfizer, say front-line vaccinators and a leading epidemiologist.
The government bought the extra doses from Spain to survive until its next big shipment from Pfizer in October and avoid a slowdown in the high vaccination rates brought on by Alert Level 4.
Dr. David Jansen helps run a large vaccination center in Papakura marae and a network of GPs
It is unequivocal.
“Everything should come in the way of Auckland. It’s the right thing to do,” he said.
The city was in the midst of an outbreak, but it was also at risk of more, and it made sense to vaccinate as many people as possible, he said.
Auckland University epidemiologist Rod Jackson also wanted all the extra doses for Tāmaki Makaurau.
It is very likely that there will be another Delta raid before Christmas, he said.
The city needed protection.
“Before Delta, I would have said ‘it’s not a big deal, let’s do it across the country evenly,’ but Delta is so contagious that I think we should go to the larger population where all the MIQ is,” he said.
The Fono runs two large vaccination centers and a mobile clinic for the Tonga community.
Executive Director Tevita Funaki agreed that Auckland should receive a higher proportion of the last doses to keep the city and country safe.
The outbreak had encouraged more people to get vaccinated, and most said they wanted to protect themselves and their families, “he said.
“We have to maintain that momentum.”
If Auckland used all the extra doses, it wouldn’t stop other vaccines across the country, but it may mean they had to slow down to pre-outbreak levels until there are more.
Nikki Turner of the Immunization Advisory Center said she did not think it was necessary to give an additional proportion of the last doses to the city now that there was a good offer and much more to come.
“If we had been short on vaccines, yes, I think we might as well have had to prioritize Auckland, but in this case I think it’s really important that we continue to go everywhere for everyone,” he said.
“No matter where we are in New Zealand, there is still the risk of Covid to our communities.”
Even Auckland Mayor Phil Goff, who has long lobbied for Tamaki Makaurau’s priority, said he was okay with the additional doses being distributed across the country.
The city’s vaccinators were doing a great job and it was easy to get a space by reserving or entering, he said.
The focus should be on the essential workforce in the city, he said.
But Jackson said a highly vaccinated population had a better chance of stopping the spread of the virus, and Auckland was where it would likely go.
“If it looks like they are going to cross the border, we want the potentially exposed person to be vaccinated,” he said.
Funaki and Jansen said that while their teams were already vaccinating large numbers, they could do more if there was a supply.
Like all GPs and pharmacies waiting to participate.
Jansen said the city was receiving great support from the rest of Aotearoa.
He thought they would understand if Auckland took all the extra doses because it would help keep everyone safe, he said.
Pfizer’s next major shipment of 1.8 million doses was due to take place next month, and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she would announce the details of another deal for additional doses next week.