NZ 90 percent vaxxed as Parliament ends
Jacinda Ardern closed the parliamentary year by announcing that New Zealand’s COVID-19 vaccination rate had reached 90% and doing some digs at her political rivals.
According to the Department of Health, 7,918,777 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been distributed, pushing New Zealand to one of the best rates in the world.
“In January, I said 2021 would be the year of the vaccine,” Ms Ardern told Parliament on Wednesday, the last sitting day of the year.
“When I made this statement, vaccinations around the world had barely started …
“89.82% of eligible New Zealanders are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19. If you don’t mind, I think we can round that down to 90%.
Ms. Ardern used her last speech of the parliamentary year to thank those involved in the vaccination effort – nurses and vaccinators included – as well as the 3.9 million Kiwis who had chosen to be vaccinated.
“Without a doubt, it has been an incredibly difficult year. I have been reminded to never, ever underestimate New Zealanders,” she said.
Among the most sincere wishes were the celebrations for the season.
She singled out Trade Minister Damien O’Connor for his tendency to stray from the script, speaker Trevor Mallard for his inconsistency in the presidency, and COVID-19 Minister Chris Hipkins for his “spread your legs” blunder.
Mr Hipkins advised the Kiwis to stay active during the outbreak, while also saying “stretch your legs”, producing a viral sensation instead.
Across the house, national leader Chris Luxon – after two weeks on the job – told Ms Ardern she can expect a politically difficult 2022.
“It’s quite difficult for us to leave for Christmas because we are really energetic and can’t wait to go,” he said.
“There is a tired front bench that says (we) look like an alternative government.”
Mr Luxon was backed by the first poll of his term which showed the gap between Labor and national polls was closing to just seven percent, from more than 20 percent earlier this year.
The former Air New Zealand boss named a kookaburra cricket ball as the perfect gift for Ms Ardern because “she took her spin game to a new level” in 2021.