Source: New Zealand Ministry of Health
The Auditor-General’s report into preparations for the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out provides useful and timely insights about how the overall COVID-19 vaccination programme can be strengthened, says Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield.
The report makes a number of recommendations including being more transparent with the public about supply risks with the vaccine, through to providing further guidance to DHBs about how to apply the sequencing framework and being clear with the public when there will be departures from this approach.
The Ministry of Health welcomes the recommendations in the report and is well positioned to respond to the findings, including implementing the recommendations at pace, Dr Bloomfield says.
In its report, the Office of the Auditor-General acknowledges that by undertaking this review at a comparatively early stage of the vaccination roll-out programme some of the overall findings or conclusions will have been overtaken by work the programme has since progressed.
“In all areas identified as needing to be strengthened, the programme has made a number of initial changes and improvements. This was done at the time the report was being undertaken, or ahead of it being finalised. Some recommendations have been fully implemented or are largely complete,” Dr Bloomfield says.
Examples of work undertaken include: expanding the amount of detailed roll-out data the Ministry publishes; working with DHBs on how they implement the sequencing framework; providing more clarity to health providers about their role in the roll-out and implementing a new public information strategy.
Dr Bloomfield says that by June, the Ministry is confident the vast majority of people in group 1 and 2 will have been offered a vaccine and will have made real progress in vaccinating the 1.7m people in group 3. This group includes people over 65, people with underlying medical conditions and prison staff and the prison population. From July, the remaining general population aged 16 and over – group 4 – will be offered a COVID-19 vaccine at a range of easy to access locations such as pop-up centres, pharmacies, medical and hauora centres and community clinics.
The Office of the Auditor-General worked constructively with the Ministry on the development of the report.
“We have appreciated the collaborative approach that the Office has taken, and its willingness to understand both the work the Ministry is doing to ensure we deliver a successful COVID-19 vaccination programme, and how the report’s recommendations could help strengthen the overall approach to the programme,” Dr Bloomfield says.