The ability to get vaccinators is being hampered by difficulties with an online training module. (File pic)
A district health board has blamed the Ministry of Health for flaws and delays in the Covid-19 vaccination rollout, claming it had “created space” for anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theories to take root.
A paper going to the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board on Tuesday, titled ‘vaccine and immunisation programme roll-out progress report March 2021’, details the difficulties and delays staff had experienced, which the DHB attributed to flaws in the Ministry’s processes.
It said: “The Ministry of Health has been slow to start the public awareness Covid-19 vaccination campaign. This has created space for anti-vaccination and conspiracy theorist messages to become well established, especially on social media.”
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The paper also said there was “significant pressure from the Government and Ministry of Health to speed up delivery extremely quickly,” but the ability to do so was “being hampered by difficulties experienced in attaining vaccinators through the online training modules and authorised to deliver the vaccine”.
Progress on getting other health providers to sign-up to provide vaccinations had also been hampered by uncertainty over funding, the paper said.
“The Ministry of Health is yet to release their funding model for third party providers and this lack of certainty may impact primary care providers to commit as vaccinating practices,” the paper said.
However, when contacted by Stuff, a DHB officials said the concerns to be raised with the board on Tuesday were now “historical”.
Hawke’s Bay DHB began vaccinating its healthcare workforce on Saturday.
Like the other 19 DHBs, Hawke’s Bay is ramping up its vaccination campaign. This includes establishing vaccination centres, training people to administer the vaccinations, and informing the public about how to get vaccinated.
In Hawke’s Bay there are 350 authorised vaccinators, most of whom are tied up with their current roles, including the Measles, Mumps and Rubella catch-up programme that is underway.
The influenza vaccination season starts in a few weeks, and the paper said there was already a “significant burden on primary care, occupational health and pharmacist vaccinators” and there is a risk the DHB may not grow capacity within the required times.
The nature of the Pfizer vaccine, including its rapid expiry date after being removed from cold storage, and the unfamiliar nature of the vials, means many providers won’t be able to deliver the vaccinations.
On top of all of that, the Ministry has been too slow to get things up and running, the paper says.
The DHB’s covid vaccine programme lead, Ngaira Harker, told Stuff the comments only related to the initial ‘tier 1’ workers and were “historical”.
She said a wider public campaign had begun and “The DHB is working in partnership with the Ministry with the rollout”, which had “gone extremely smoothly and has been well-received”.
The opening of Dunedin’s COVID-19 vaccination clinic.
Issues with the online training system had been resolved, Harker said.
“We have completely trained 40 vaccinators in delivering the Pfizer vaccine so far, with an additional 100 currently training,” she said.
As for funding for other vaccine providers, Harker said “the DHB is looking forward to the release of the funding model, which it expects to receive soon”.
The Ministry has been contacted for comment.