updates October 16

PoliticsOctober 16, 2021

Live updates, October 16: Vaccine dose count now at 120,000 with hours to go

updates October 16

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for October 16, by Catherine McGregor. Auckland is now at step one of the alert level three pathway, Northland and parts of Waikato are in regular level three. Reach me on catherine@thespinoff.co.nz

Today is Super Saturday – find out more, including links to vaccine events and locations in your area, here

6.10pm: Want summer? Get vaccinated

A reminder from Siouxsie Wiles and Toby Morris:

The Spinoff’s coverage of the Covid story depends on support from Members. Keep us going by joining today. Read the latest news, including rolling updates of breaking Covid news, here.

5.45pm: Ashley Bloomfield has got the moves

If you’ve read Mad Chapman’s deep dive into the mystery of minister Stuart Nash’s shirtless vaccine photo this week, you’ll be familiar with Mana MP Barb Edmonds, the colleague/silent assassin who took the snap that caused shockwaves across the nation. Now Edmonds’ camera phone strikes again, catching director general of health Ashley Bloomfield getting down at Cannons Creek earlier today.

Thank you Ashley. And thank you, Barb.

5.05pm: Rocketing past 120k

The very latest numbers, courtesy of our live Super Saturday vaccine shot counter.

4.40pm: Air New Zealand’s business class vaccine clinic, reviewed

Reader Leroy Beckett reviews ‘Jabaseat’, the pop-up vaccination clinic held today on an Air NZ 787 aircraft parked at Auckland Airport:

Air NZ offered the opportunity to “get vaccinated for Covid 19 on a plane” and I booked a seat because I was due my second shot and I was intrigued by the absurdity.

They did the injections in business premier and then we were sent to wait in economy (which felt safer as they could space us out more). We had access to the screens to check the flight map to nowhere and they gave us cookies and ice cream in goodie bags as we left, but sadly no Air NZ lollies!

They did run into some practical limitations of getting people onto the plane that made it a little less fun. My partner wasn’t allowed with me because she didn’t have closed-toe shoes, a person in full PPE waved a metal detector over me before I was allowed in, and in general the social distancing wasn’t ideal (it was on a plane after all).

Did get immunity from Covid though, so all in all a good flight.

The AM Show host Ryan Bridge gets vaccinated onboard an Air New Zealand Boeing 787, broadcast live on Vaxathon this afternoon (Photo: Vaxathon/screengrab)

4.20pm: Almost exactly a year ago, another marathon TV broadcast

We’ve rounded the corner into hour five of the live Vaxathon, and Paddy G is still going strong. While you’re here, a reminder of the glorious things that can happen during super-longform live broadcasts – especially when they involve one Patrick Gower.

Fun fact, the election was exactly a year ago tomorrow, October 17.

4.05pm: Today’s vaccination numbers by ethnicity

Some truly outstanding numbers here, with Pasifika and Māori populations leading the pack. As of 3pm today, 11,264 Māori had received a vaccine, representing 2% of the entire eligible Māori population.

4.00pm: Checking in with community vaccination freebies

Earlier in the day I made a call out for freebies, prizes and other enticements being offered around the country, and you delivered. Here are a few more offers to encourage vaccination from some very generous New Zealanders:

ASB is donating $5 to St Johns for every person who gets vaccinated today.

New World Papatoetoe is offering a free hot chicken for every vaccination!

Vegan bakery Sweet Release in central Wellington has hundreds of post-vaccination baked goods and sweet treats to give away at their store. They’re open until 8pm so you still have time to get down there.

More than $200,000 in prizes are being given away at vaccine events across the Auckland DHB region.

From a Northland reader: “We got our second shot in Kerikeri today and we were offered: Subway cookies; sausage sizzle; more cookies; free bottle of water; flat whites; $10 GAS petrol voucher; the opportunity to go in the draw for more prizes; and the guy at the sausage sizzle recognised my partner and offered him a job (my partner had applied to the company recently and they recognised him from the interview!)”

3.05pm: Ding! 100k dose target hit

It’s official: Aotearoa has surpassed 100,000 doses of the vaccine in a day. Please form a bubble-limited conga line forthwith.

More than 30,000 people across Auckland have so far had a first or second dose today.

2.45pm: Highlights so far from the Vaxathon extravaganza

Vaxathon blogger Alex Casey writes: We are two and a half hours into the televised Vaxathon and it is truly a wonderful time. Taika Waititi has shown us his palm tree print nails, Patrick Gower has signed up to TikTok and Lorde has revealed the ideal post-vaccination bakery treats.

Hosts Sonny Ngatai, Julian Wilcox, Paddy Gower and Anna Harcourt have been holding things down in the studio, where there are What Now-style tele-ops answering questions live, an evolving Super Saturday mural and a bevvy of musical guests.

A highlight of the morning was Dr Ashley Bloomfield appearing without a collar in sight, beaming about the “fantastic” efforts so far. “Ten thousand is more than we’ve had any other day for Māori, so it is great to see those numbers coming,” he said.

Other highlights include Rawiri Waititi doing a TikTok, Aziz Al Sa’afin dancing with some nurses dressed as beekeepers, and Chris Hipkins getting grilled until he was beet red about “spread your legs.” Really good vibes and celebrities popping up in vaccine centres across the motu. It’s honestly just a really great time.

Read all Alex’s Vaxathon updates here.

Lorde beams in from an undisclosed location

2.35pm: The Spinoff’s vaccine counter is live

Here it is, created by The Spinoff’s Harkanwal Singh using data from the Ministry of Health. This counter is updated within minutes of new MoH data being released, and we’ll keep it near the top of this page so you can keep an eye on how we’re tracking. Remember – the target for today was 100,000 shots in arms.

2.20pm: Vaccine doses now over 85,000

The numbers keep going up and up. For reference, the previous biggest day ever for vaccines was 93,068 on 26 August.

Today’s target is 100,000 – any guesses on the final tally?

2.05pm: The shape of the outbreak

A surprisingly low daily case count today – 41 – has the trend line on a slight downwards tilt, though of course it’d be a mistake to put too much stock in a single day’s numbers. Still, a lower than expected day is better than the alternative.

However the “infectious in the community” numbers are not so promising. Of yesterday’s 64 cases, 35 were infectious while active in the community, creating potential exposure events involving family, friends and other members of the public.

2pm: A special note from The Spinoff publisher Duncan Greive

Without wanting to get too Bernie Sanders-meme with it, I am once again asking you to consider donating to help The Spinoff. The delta outbreak struck just as we had made a major investment in new hires to grow what we can bring you on The Spinoff. These live updates have been a huge part of our work to make key news more accessible, and their editor, Stewart Sowman-Lund, is one of a clutch of new writers and editors we have appointed over the past year, including Reweti Kohere, Madeleine Holden and Chris Schulz. We also now have a CTO, working on a new site, and a head of data creating powerful charts to map the spread of the virus and rollout of the vaccine.

They are all creating important work under highly constrained circumstances — as are the rest of our 20-strong editorial team. Unfortunately delta has had a significant impact on our partnership work, which makes us more reliant than ever on the support of our audience.

So — if you’re part of The Spinoff Members, thank you, from all of us. If you’re not, and can donate, please do so today using this link — to keep on keeping on, we need you right now.

(A reminder: Every dollar donated through The Spinoff Members is ring-fenced to create more of our homegrown and independent journalism.)

1.35pm: Vaccine update

Doses administered today are now well past 70,000, but were at 69,582 at 1pm when the Ministry of Health statement was published. By 1pm, 19,773 first doses had been administered – the highest rate for 23 days – and 49,809 were administered to people getting their second dose.

Today’s numbers include 5,443 first doses and 6,004 second doses for Māori.

As of 1pm, 1,979 Pacific people have received their first vaccination and 4,215 the second dose.

In Auckland today, 4,490 Aucklanders have had their first dose so far and 17,714 their second.

First doses administered yesterday totalled 14,037; second doses administered yesterday totalled 55,626.

1.20pm: 41 new community cases of Covid-19

There are 41 community cases today, a significant decrease on yesterday’s 64.

The figure for yesterday had been 65, but has now decreased by 1 after a community case was reclassified, the Ministry of Health has advised.

So far, 21 of these remain unlinked, with investigations under way to help determine their connection to the current outbreak. Forty of today’s cases are in Auckland, with one in Waikato. The Waikato case is a household member of two existing cases and is already in a quarantine facility in Auckland.

There are now 124 unlinked cases from the past 14 days. Of yesterday’s 64 cases, 35 were infectious while in the community.

There are 31 people in hospital with Covid-19, including six in intensive care.

Woman connected to Northland pair tests positive

An Auckland woman associated with the two women who travelled to Northland has tested positive for Covid-19 and is in an Auckland quarantine facility. She was in Northland with the other two women.

Public health officials have determined she wasn’t infectious while she was in Northland between 2-8 October. Her infectious period has been determined as beginning after she returned to Auckland.

Wastewater results

There continues to be positive Covid-19 detections in wastewater samples taken from Raglan. This reflects known cases in the area who have been granted exemptions to isolate at home. However, symptomatic locals are encouraged to please get tested.

There have also been positive detections in wastewater from Beachlands and Pukekohe. These followed earlier detections at both sites on 8 October. People in these areas with symptoms are also asked to please get tested.

People in Wellsford are urged to get tested after two positive detections in wastewater samples. Further samples are currently being analysed. There are testing stations open today at both Wellsford and Warkworth, and a pop-up testing centre is expected to open on Monday in Mangawhai.

12.55pm: Latest numbers expected at 1pm

Today’s case numbers will be provided by written statement around 1pm. A reminder: yesterday’s case total was 65, and experts including modeller Shaun Hendy warn we should expect to break triple figures in the near future.

While you wait, check out our Vaxathon live blog. Helmed by Alex Casey (fellow TV writer Tara Ward will be joining her later today), it’s your essential second-screen companion to the eight-hour live TV extravaganza. Highlights so far include Taika Waititi from LA, Ashley Bloomfield in the studio, and Paddy Gower promising to join TikTok. You have been warned.

12.35pm: Does Onehunga have the most fun vaccination centre in the country?

You be the judge:

12.15pm: More than 50,000 doses administered

It’s only just gone midday and we’ve already hit the halfway mark in the national effort to get 100,000 vaccinations administered on Super Saturday. As of this update, 54,117 doses have been given since the start of the day.

12.00pm: Checking in with community vaccination freebies

All bus services in Northland are free to use by people on their way to and from vaccination facilities and centres. No proof required, just tell the driver you’re getting vaccinated.

Oceanz Seafood are offering a free 1kg of live mussels to the first 250 people getting vaccinated at the Henderson vaccination centre today.

The Waiheke Volunteer Coastguard are en route from Rakino Island bringing their neighbours across to Waiheke for their vaccinations.

And don’t forget that a lot of vaccination locations are offering free coffee, ice cream, sausages and snacks. Find your region here and click through – many of the regional Super Saturday pages list what extras are on offer where (though these lists of “official” freebies are far from exhaustive).

11.25am: Bloomfield on vaccines and the ‘real and present danger’ of Covid-19

Speaking to Kim Hill on RNZ this morning, the director general of health Ashley Bloomfield had a message for people who think they don’t need to be vaccinated because they’re young and healthy:

“Most of those people would have been vaccinated a number of times during their lives. And the reason they were vaccinated against a whole range of diseases – measles, rubella, mumps, tetanus, hepatitis B – is because vaccination stops them getting those diseases in the first place. Very few of those conditions will be things that people will be exposed to in their lifetimes, but here we have in Covid-19 a very real and present danger.”

“Hundreds of millions of doses have now been administered and the evidence is very clear that the vaccine not only protects you but those around you.”

On worries about the mRNA technology in the Pfizer vaccine, which has led some people to want to hold out for Novavax, a more traditional form of vaccine, Bloomfield said this: “First of all, the Pfizer vaccine is very safe. Not only have we got the data from the clinical trials undertaken last year, but there is now the real world experience right around the globe with hundreds of millions of doses. And that’s not the same for Novavax. Novavax is still in trial, it’s not actually approved for use in any country because they haven’t yet submitted the data.”

However for those who aren’t prepared to take mRNA vaccines, the government is close to finalising a back-up supply of Astra Zeneca and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccines, he said.

As the interview wound up, Hill asked: “If someone told you when you went for the director general’s job that you would have to cope with [Covid-19], would you have said no?”

“There were certainly moments early in the pandemic when I would wake up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night thinking ‘Oh my goodness, this is really challenging’,” Bloomfield said. “But if I reflect on the last 20 months and what we set out to do… we’ve done pretty well as a country to date.”

10.55am: The numbers so far

It’s only mid morning, and New Zealand is already quarter of the way to its Super Saturday target of 100,000 doses administered.

The Ministry of Health is also keeping a tally of doses by region, with Counties Manukau currently in the lead at 3,554 doses administered already this morning.

10.00am: The prime minister’s Super Saturday plans

The prime minister is in Wellington today and has a full schedule of visits and appearances to tie in with the national vaccination drive.

She’s just arrived at the Sky Stadium drive-through clinic on the waterfront, and from there is off to the Pasifika Youth Vax Festival at Cannons Creek in Porirua – Ardern is scheduled to be there from 11am to 12pm. She’s at the Maraeroa Marae pop up clinic, also in Porirua, from 12.15pm to 1pm, then heads to Avalon Studio in Lower Hutt for a Vaxathon appearance around 1.45pm. Ardern ends her day at the mobile bus vaccination clinic currently stationed at the Remakery in Lower Hutt, from 2.30pm.

9.45am: Planned move to ‘traffic light’ system draws fire

The government’s plan for a traffic light system to replace the current alert levels has met with strong criticism from health experts, both 1 News and the NZ Herald report.

Under the proposed new system, green would be equivalent to the current alert level one but with mandatory vaccine requirements for large events such as summer festivals, as previously outlined by the prime minister.

Amber (or yellow or orange) would be used in situations where the virus is in increasing circulation and is roughly equivalent to level two. Under amber, mask-wearing would be mandatory and there could be a requirement for vaccinations at retail and hospitality businesses.

Red would be similar to the current settings for level 2.5, with masks mandatory, gatherings size-limited and the possibility of further vaccination requirements in order for businesses to operate.

1 News says details and timelines for the traffic light system will be announced by the government next week.

The plan was put to health experts during a video meeting on Thursday, chaired by chief science advisers Juliet Gerrard and Ian Town. The response was largely negative, according to reports, with the experts – among them Siouxsie Wiles, Jin Russell, Rawiri Jansen, Collin Tukuitonga, Shaun Hendy, David Skegg, Michael Baker and Rod Jackson – arguing the current tighter alert levels should stay in place until enough of the population was vaccinated.

8.45am: Tell us about your freebies and enticements!

From free pizza and ice cream to big ticket giveaways, let me know what’s on offer anywhere in the country to encourage people to get vaccinated today and I’ll try to give it a plug. I’m at catherine@thespinoff.co.nz.

A couple of early submissions:

Uber is offering 5,000 free rides to and from vaccination centres in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, the company says. Rides will be made available on Saturday between 7am and 9pm, with links distributed to eligible participants through text message by the Ministry of Health. If you’re part of the group selected by the Ministry of Health, you will receive a text message with a link. Remember also that public transport in Auckland is free today for anyone using it to get vaccinated. More details here.

Vodafone is giving away 125 smart phones at vaccination centres around the country, plus prepay vouchers for spot prizes. The Vodafone NZ Warriors will be giving away a signed Indigenous jersey to one lucky vaccine recipient in Tāmaki Makaurau.

Canterbury Rugby is giving away 1,000 double passes to this weekend’s Bunnings Warehouse NPC clash against table toppers Hawke’s Bay in Christchurch. Passes are being given to the first 300 plus people to get vaccinated at the Christchurch Arena drive-through vaccination centre today.

If you’re in the Eastern Bays, don’t bother with breakfast and simply head to St Heliers Medical Centre for your vaxx. Meadow restaurant are offering a free crepe between 10am and noon for anyone that gets vaccinated at the centre, and there’ll be free home baking waiting for you after you get your shot. Here’s a snap from the home “bakery” this morning – “masks on and thoroughly clean hands of course,” our correspondent tells us.

8.20am: Thousands of New Zealand doctors publish letter supporting Covid vaccination

A total 6535 doctors have signed a letter in support of vaccination, published on Stuff today. The letter, displayed as an interactive article showing the name of every signatory, reads:

“We wish to present a united and evidence-based voice to the people of Aotearoa New Zealand in support of vaccination against Covid-19 for all eligible New Zealanders. We overwhelmingly support vaccination against Covid-19 and other public health measures such as mask use in public areas, physical distancing and hand hygiene. These measures are not just an individual choice: when we undertake these measures, we do so for our whānau, friends, work colleagues and the entire country.”

7.00am: It’s Super Saturday – here’s what is coming up

Ata mārie and welcome to Super Saturday on The Spinoff live updates. It’s going to be a huge day across the motu, as politicians and health officials (plus some celebrity supporters) go all out to get New Zealanders vaccinated. Together, they’re pushing to reach a target of 100,000 vaccine shots given in a single day, beating our previous national record of 93,000 in one day.

There are special vaccination events planned for all parts of the country – Auckland, you can find your closest vaccine provider here – at all kinds of locations, from pop-up facilities to GP clinics and pharmacies. Many are opening for extended hours and offering enticements like sausage sizzles, free ice cream and spot prizes. In Auckland you can also get free travel on public transport to your vaccine appointment – details here.

Know of a business or organisation offering their own freebies to encourage vaccination? Email me at catherine@thespinoff.co.nz and I’ll endeavour to give them a shoutout. Let’s start with one for Wellington’s early risers: the chance to win what will no doubt be an extremely fancy afternoon tea with the British High Commissioner (we’re presuming you’ll need to tweet a photo of you at a vaccine centre).

At 12pm the live televised Vaxathon kicks off, and Spinoffers Alex Casey and Tara Ward will be watching and blogging all the action. We’ve graciously given them their own page for their Vaxathon updates, but they’ll be checking in here hourly from midday with the highlights from Aotearoa’s very first (and hopefully only) vaccine-themed Telethon.

In the meantime, I want your photos. In the spirit of our celebration of dogs at polling booths, I’m looking for snaps of dogs at vaccine centres – your own very good boy or girl, or someone else’s. I’m also in the market for celebrity sightings, especially if you catch them in the act of being vaccinated. Send ’em to catherine@thespinoff.co.nz and you might see your photo here.

Still need a nudge to get the shot? These links to some of our most popular posts on Covid vaccination may help:

Siouxsie Wiles & Toby Morris: As summer beckons, your vaccine questions – answered

How to talk to loved ones who are vaccine hesitant

Siouxsie and Toby: Do I really need a Covid-19 vaccine, even if I’m fit and healthy?

Siouxsie and Toby: How the vaccine was developed so quickly without compromising safety

I was vaccine hesitant, now I’m double jabbed. Here’s why

Keep going!