As New Zealand pushes for vaccination coverage of at least 90 per cent to protect against the spread of the Delta variant, the Herald's daily vaccination tracker has become a vital tool for understanding our progress. Data specialist Chris McDowall, who developed the tracker, explains how it works, where the numbers come from and why 90 per cent has become such an important benchmark.
Why vaccinate 90 per cent of the population?
The director general of health and the Minister of Health have advised that Aotearoa New Zealand needs a vaccination coverage of at least 90 per cent to keep our population safe and avoid future level 4 lockdowns.
The 90% Project is an NZ Herald initiative that aims to reach all New Zealanders to get the word out about vaccination so we can save lives and restore freedoms.
How does the tracker count the number of people vaccinated?
Covid-19 vaccination sites provide information about every vaccine dose administered to the Ministry of Health. The ministry records this data in the Covid-19 Immunisation Register.
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The ministry provides daily updates on the total number of vaccinations across the country based on data from the Immunisation Register. These updates include the number of first and second doses administered the previous day, as well as overall totals. These statistics are published on the Ministry of Health's vaccine data page and are the basis for the NZ Herald's progress tracker.
On Wednesday afternoons, the ministry also publishes more detailed vaccination statistics to the same vaccine data page. These numbers summarise the rollout by district health board, priority group and various demographic cohorts.
How does the tracker count the eligible population?
Everyone in Aotearoa New Zealand aged 12 and over is eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine. The NZ Herald Vaccine Tracker uses totals from the Ministry of Health's Health Service User (HSU) database to estimate the size of this eligible population. These statistics are available in the "Details of vaccination data" spreadsheet linked from the bottom of the ministry's vaccine data page.
The HSU provides information about the number of people in New Zealand who used health services in 2020. The Ministry of Health advise using this database when calculating vaccine coverage. The NZ Herald's use of the HSU ensures consistency between the numbers we report and those on the Ministry of Health website.
The HSU is not based on the New Zealand census, which is administered by StatsNZ. Census-based population estimates and the Ministry of Health's HSU provide similar, but not identical totals. For that reason, we provide an alternative view of the tracker above based on the mid-2021 StatsNZ estimates.