Seven months into New Zealand’s vaccine rollout, there are many pathways for Kiwis to get the jab.
Since September 1, anyone aged 12 years and older can book their vaccination appointment through the national Book My Vaccine system.
However, both director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield and director of public health Dr Caroline McElnay are urging people to cancel their unneeded booking if they’ve had their first jab ahead of schedule.
Many Kiwis will have discovered that a booking is not a necessity – with vaccination centres, medical centres, GPs and other services quite capable of accommodating walk-ins and vaccinating whānau who tag along to an appointment.
While seizing an opportunity to get vaccinated earlier is a good thing, it has had an unfortunate consequence in that many bookings are now redundant.
With increased demand for inoculation, Ministry of Health officials are encouraging people to cancel any unnecessary vaccination appointments in an effort to free up space for the 67 per cent of Kiwis who still need either one or two jabs.
“We are asking the public to remove the bookings they no longer need first to ensure they are in control of their vaccination journey,” Covid vaccination programme operations group manager Astrid Koornneef said.
Fortunately, the system can pick up when a fully vaccinated Kiwi still has a booking, and the unneeded bookings are routinely removed.
However, it does prompt the question: why can’t the ministry recognise when someone has had their first vaccination ahead of their scheduled appointment?
After all, a person’s vaccination is linked to their NHI (National Health Index) number, which could be cross-referenced against any booked appointments.
The answer is, it’s a work in progress. The ministry is currently developing a tool that can register when a person may have had their jab earlier than intended, before sending them a message asking whether their booking is still needed.
Until the system is upgraded, the responsibility falls to the rest of us to make sure we aren’t inadvertently making the vaccination queue longer for those in need of a jab.
Booking cancellations can be made by calling 0800 28 29 26 or visiting the website app.bookmyvaccine.covid19.health.nz/manage.
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