DHBs have dampened their aims for the vaccine rollout, with 170,000 fewer doses planned to be administered by the end of August than originally planned.
The revised numbers for DHB vaccine plans until August 29 were released yesterday by the Ministry of Health, prompting questions over whether they've been changed to make it easier for DHBs to look ahead of target.
In the original April plan, they had planned to have administered 3.22 million doses in total by the end of August, but the new plan was for 3.05 million doses - 170,000 fewer.
The Ministry of Health said that the change was the equivalent of the rollout running four days behind the original schedule.
"The dosage figures provided in the original plan were based on very early data modelling, working off the best information available at the time," said Jo Gibbs, national director Covid-19 vaccine and immunisation programme.
"The 170,000 doses will amount to about four days' of volume of vaccine by the end of August."
She said the ministry now had a "clearer picture of the volume and timing of supply from Pfizer and have also continued to work closely with DHBs as they have delivered the vaccine locally".
The goal to offer a vaccination to every eligible person in New Zealand by the end of the year had not changed, Gibbs said.
It comes as supply of the vaccine is no longer critically short. This week saw a shipment of 350,000-odd vaccine doses, the largest so far.
This is enough to vaccinate 50,000 people a day, which is what will be needed on average to have 4 million people fully vaccinated by December.
But Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said that capacity to do so wouldn't be ready until the end of August - six weeks away.
Asked why it couldn't be done now, he said that primary care practices were still being brought "on board".
That's despite GPs and pharmacies crying out for months for more information and to be more involved, with some GPs in Auckland turning away bookings because of ongoing uncertainty and an absence of communication from the Ministry of Health.
Act leader David Seymour said the Government has had months to bring GPs and pharmacists on board.
"When it comes to vaccinating, doctors and pharmacists are experienced sailors. Only the Ministry of Health would think they need 'onboarding'."
National Party Covid-19 response spokesman Chris Bishop said the revised plan was "yet more disappointing news".
"At a time when we're meant to be scaling up - and we finally get the supply to do so - things are going to be go more slowly than we were told they would earlier this year."
He asked whether the DHBs were simply rejigging their plans to make them more unambitious, which would make it easier to look ahead of target.
"Take West Coast - 50 per cent of the population on the West Coast has had a first dose, best in the country per capita, yet they are below their target.
"But Taranaki is at 130 per cent of its target so they can tell their community they're miles ahead, but per capita they're the slowest in the country.
"The plans are a joke."
The rollout is currently tracking 5 per cent ahead of the scheduled DHB plans.
As of midnight Tuesday, there had been 1.55 million doses of the vaccine administered in total, and almost 630,000 people were fully vaccinated.
- additional reporting Chris McDowall