Hipkins defends vaccine pass as up to 100K left waiting

Source: 1News

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins has defended the Government's vaccine pass rollout, as he said there are still up to 100,000 people waiting to get one.

On Thursday, the Ministry of Health said around 70,000 Kiwis will be issued temporary exemptions from being required to produce a My Vaccine Pass while they await assistance obtaining them.

The temporary exemption is a record of the individual’s request for assistance and has a unique identifier, the ministry said in a statement.

"It can be shown to businesses and organisations requiring a My Vaccine Pass, and will be valid until 11.59pm on December 14, 2021."

On Q+A Sunday morning, host Jack Tame asked Hipkins, "What does it say about our vaccine passes that 70,000 Kiwis have been offered exemptions?"

In his answer, Hipkins says that number is actually now higher but is being worked through.

"If we break those numbers down, as of this morning, there were somewhere between 90 to 100,000 issues in the queue to be dealt with," he said.

"More than half of those are people who have been vaccinated overseas and are attempting to get their vaccines recognised in New Zealand, or they're people where there have been name-related issues in the way their records are in the system.

"For example, people who gave a slightly different variant of their name when they got their second dose compared to when they got their first dose and the system may not match them up well to generate their pass."

Hipkins added those issues are easily resolved, but they do require talking to an actual person to do that.

He said the wait time on the phone is only around five minutes.

Tame then pressed the minister on the issues asking whether the high number of exemptions "undermine the system".

"They're only temporary and they do expire very quickly," Hipkins replied.

He said there have been 3.6 million passes issued in only a couple of weeks and the rollout has "gone remarkably smoothly".

Hipkins said that "overall I am satisfied" with the rollout but admitted, "with more time we could have done things better".