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Live updates, May 19: Urgent law change needed to ensure legality of vaccine roll-out

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Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for May 19, bringing you the latest news updated throughout the day. Get in touch at stewart@thespinoff.co.nz8.00am: Urgent law change needed to ensure legality of vaccine roll-outNew legislation is on the way to ensure that the government’s vaccine drive can continue.A High Court decision questioned whether the entire population […]

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for May 19, bringing you the latest news updated throughout the day. Get in touch at stewart@thespinoff.co.nz

8.00am: Urgent law change needed to ensure legality of vaccine roll-out

New legislation is on the way to ensure that the government’s vaccine drive can continue.

A High Court decision questioned whether the entire population could be legally given the Covid-19 jab under the Medicines Act – the law used by health minister Andrew Little.

“The law has for some time now, lacked clarity over how it can be applied,” Little said last night.

“There are six products currently in use under section 23 [of the Act], including two types of contraceptives, two pandemic flu vaccines, the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine and an electrolyte solution used in hospitals, potentially affected by the decision.”

A new bill to ensure the vaccine roll-out continued according to schedule will be introduced today, Little confirmed. “The Medicines Amendment Bill is expected to be passed under urgency [today] in order to protect New Zealanders early access to medicines when needed.”

Both National and Act have pledged support for the law change, although David Seymour told Stuff the courts were right to uphold the law.

The legal debacle is the latest in a recent string of issues potentially impacting the Covid-19 vaccine drive. Yesterday, as I reported in the live updates, a report by the auditor-general questioned whether the vaccine roll-out would be able to meet the end of the year deadline for population-wide vaccination. “I am not yet confident that all of the pieces will fall into place quickly enough for the immunisation programme to reach the level of vaccinations required for the government to meet its goals,” the auditor-general John Ryan said his report.

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7.30am: Top stories from The Bulletin

Something very wrong has happened to the computer systems at the Waikato DHB, and it’s not yet clear how long it will last. Yesterday what is believed to be a hacking attack was launched, taking down information systems from Hamilton down to Taumarunui. In terms of the effect, it has left hospital workers relying on a lot more paper copies of records than would normally be the case, and some patient services have been affected. The NZ Herald reports the National Cyber Security Centre has been called in, on the grounds that they monitor and defend against threats to organisations of national significance.

According to RNZ’s news this morning, patients are still waiting to hear when postponed services will go back to normal. Some procedures had to be cancelled at very short notice.

The local DHB boss has been adamant that no ransom will be paid, reports One News. There has been speculation that it might be a ransom attack. Chief executive Kevin Snee said police were currently trying to verify that, after a message was received. There has also been speculation that the attack is similar in nature to those that hit the NZX and other organisations last year. Radio NZ has a good explainer on what ransomware and ransom attacks involve.

Meanwhile in unrelated news (though it is a story about health system capacity) the Auditor General is concerned about vaccine rollout timeframes. Our live updates reports a number of recommendations have been made to ensure that all New Zealanders who want one can be vaccinated by the end of the year. In response, the health ministry said some of those recommendations had already been put in place. Both Dr Ashley Bloomfield and minister Chris Hipkins described the target as challenging but achievable.


Human rights watchdog Amnesty International is criticising the practice of locking asylum seekers up in prisons. Newshub’s Amelia Wade reports that people fleeing their countries have then found themselves double-bunked with prisoners who are violent and dangerous. Immigration NZ said most asylum seekers aren’t detained – and those who are is because of questions around their identity. But Tim Maurice from the Asylum Seekers Support Trust said that doesn’t make sense as a policy, because in some cases the only way asylum seekers will be able to get to safety in New Zealand is on false documents.

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Meanwhile, the Chief Ombudsman is criticising Corrections for not making improvements to prisoner welfare, despite many calls for them to do so, reports Radio NZ. Ombudsman staff regularly make surprise visits to prisons, but the recommendations haven’t gained much traction – Peter Boshier said this is in contrast to other, more proactive government departments. “I want to find out why problems continue to exist across the whole prison network and how the department is genuinely taking action to address these,” said Boshier in announcing a new investigation into Corrections.

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Source: The Spinoff https://thespinoff.co.nz/politics/19-05-2021/live-updates-may-19-urgent-law-changed-needed-to-ensure-legality-of-vaccine-roll-out/

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