Top ministers coy on sports stars getting preferential vaccine treatment

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Tue, 9 Mar 2021, 8:48PM
(Photo / Getty)
(Photo / Getty)

Top ministers coy on sports stars getting preferential vaccine treatment

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Tue, 9 Mar 2021, 8:48PM

Top ministers are playing coy as to whether some of New Zealand's highest-profile sporting stars will be given preferential treatment when it comes to the vaccine rollout.

And there appear to be tentative calls from the Opposition to put business people who need to travel overseas at the front of the queue.

But all will be revealed tomorrow when the Government unveils its highly anticipated road map for who will receive the jab next.

A major area of focus will be whether the Black Caps get the vaccine ahead of the general public.

This comes after it was revealed that director general of health Ashley Bloomfield was directly lobbied by Cricket NZ for players to be given preferential treatment.

These issues were raised with Bloomfield when he was at the Black Caps game in Wellington on Sunday.

"Dr Bloomfield undertook to take the matter of players potentially being vaccinated prior to travel for consideration as part of planning for the Covid-19 vaccine rollout," a Ministry of Health spokesperson told AAP.

Asked if Cricket NZ was directly lobbying the Government for preferential treatment, Sports Minister Robertson wouldn't answer directly this morning.

"It probably won't surprise you that a lot of sports [teams] are interested in whether or not those who have to travel overseas for competitions can get vaccinated."

He said he has had a number of different conversations about this issue and how this could work.

"Not just for sportspeople – there are other people who have to travel for particular reasons."

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said he had not been directly lobbied by any sports teams about priority access.

But he said he could imagine that a number of sports teams would have been lobbying Robertson.

This, however, would have no bearing on the Government's vaccine rollout decision, he said.

"Lobbying has not played a role in who is sitting in each group within the sequencing framework."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was similarly coy on the issue of vaccine prioritisation.

"We know there are calls, for instance, from those who may represent New Zealand internationally – but no decision has been made yet."

Asked if she thought it was appropriate for Bloomfield to be lobbied by the Black Caps, National leader Judith Collins said she understood the position the team was in.

But she also suggested that business people who need to get overseas could be given priority access to the vaccine as well.

"There are lots of business people who are saying that they can't get overseas and they have got big deals that may well fall over."