National deputy leader Shane Reti’s ‘flip-flop’ on Covid vaccine

National Party deputy leader Shane Reti appears to have changed his mind about being vaccinated early for Covid-19.

Yesterday Reti told Stuff that he didn’t want to jump the queue just to prove the vaccine was safe, and only wanted to be vaccinated in accordance with the Government’s priority framework.

But today a spokesman for the National Party said that Reti and Covid-19 spokesman Chris Bishop had both been invited by the Government to have an early Pfizer jab – and they will accept the invitation.

The spokesman added that party leader Judith Collins would also do so, but hasn’t received an invitation yet.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said today she would get vaccinated closer to the roll-out for the general public, which is scheduled to start in July.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins received his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine this morning, and was asked about Reti’s apparent reticence yesterday.

“That’s ultimately a choice for him a decision for him,” Hipkins said.

“I don’t want this to become a political football. It was a very difficult decision to make about when we went so it didn’t become a political football. I prefer to keep it that way.”

But Hipkins added that he was concerned about misinformation about the vaccine, and Kiwis were looking to politicians for leadership – which was why he had invited the media to see him being vaccinated.

He chose not to watch as he was injected, adding afterwards that he didn’t even feel it. Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall, who also got vaccinated, said she felt a bit of a scratch.

She reminded people to get their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine, even if they miss the ideal three-week wait between doses.

“We don’t know if delaying influences the efficacy of the vaccine, but we know from all other vaccines that it’s better just to get the second dose down rather than to think ‘I’ve missed my window’.”

Reti said in a statement this afternoon that his view was always to get vaccinated according to the Government’s priority framework.

He had yet to see the invitation from Hipkins when he spoke to Stuff yesterday, but was “more than happy” to accept it to show support for the health workforce and to reinforce vaccine safety.

“I strongly support vaccination and have probably vaccinated more people than anyone else currently in Parliament.”

Act leader David Seymour and deputy leader Brooke van Velden said they would accept an invite to be vaccinated early. The Herald has asked the Māori Party if co-leaders Rawiri Waititi and Debbie-Ngarewa Packer would also accept an invitation.

'Certainly conscious' of being in the dark – Hipkins

As of today, 52,183 people have received the first dose of the vaccine, and 14,113 people have received two doses. As of midnight last night, 66,296 doses of the Pfizer vaccination had been administered.

There are about 50,000 border workers, including people they live with, who are the highest priority, and 480,000 frontline health workers and high-risk people in South Auckland who are next in the priority queue.

Hipkins said he was “certainly conscious” that the public couldn’t gauge the success of the roll-out without seeing the daily numbers compared to the daily targets in the delivery model.

There would be more regular updates, including “probably” daily updates, in the next week or so, and he said they hadn’t happened yet because systems were still being refined and the Government wanted to have more confidence in the daily numbers.

He added that the roll-out was at about 96 per cent of the delivery target, higher than it was last week, and about 5500 doses were administered yesterday.

Families of border workers and higher risk people in South Auckland had also started to get jabs, he said, but border workers remained at the front of the queue.

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