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Covid outreach disaster as online poll sees vaccination bus named ‘the murder wagon’

Ashley Bloomfield says he doesn’t want those hesitant about getting the vaccine to “be distracted” by the fact they come out of the murder wagon.

Ashley Bloomfield says he doesn’t want those hesitant about getting the vaccine to “be distracted” by the fact they come out of the murder wagon.

The Government is dealing with a Covid outreach debacle today, after the decision to put the naming of New Zealand’s vaccination bus service to a social media poll backfired, when users across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram voted narrowly to name the service “The Murder Wagon.”

The intended purpose of the bus was to offer appointment-free vaccinations, and reach remote communities and those that might be hesitant about the vaccine, utilising a tool that the public trusts above anything else: their local bus service.

Seeing that Australia had named their vaccination bus something fun – Jabba the Bus! – Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday made the decision to put it to an informal public vote, “to see if we could come up with something better.”

New Zealanders quickly became sharply divided on which lame pun they wanted to adorn the bus, and while around 85% of respondents voted for fun names like “Jabba Waka” and “Sponsored by Tip Top”, votes were split about 20 different ways, allowing “The Murder Wagon”, a name championed by a number of anti-vax Facebook groups, to come in first with just 13%.

At today’s 1pm Covid press conference, The Prime Minister said the murder wagon was “not the name I would have chose,” but that on the positive side of things, at least it wasn’t “Vaxi Taxi.”

“There were potentially worse outcomes,” she said.

Ardern promised that murder wagon staff would be well trained and equipped to explain to people in the community that they will not be murdered inside the wagon.

Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said that some people “understandably, may not want to enter the murder wagon.”

“These people can choose to be vaccinated outside the wagon,” he clarified.

“I just want to reiterate, in case some New Zealanders may not be aware, that the name of this vehicle was chosen by a social media poll,” explained Bloomfield, “and it does not in any way reflect the consensus view of medical experts in this country or, for that matter, anywhere in the world. Just a quick little factoid for you there.”

“The wagon isn’t even actually a wagon,” he added. “It’s a bus.”

Neither he nor the Prime Minister would be drawn on whether the vehicle could be renamed “The Murder Bus.”

Bloomfield conceded that it was “unfortunate” in retrospect that the buses had been painted mostly black.

“It might be that we decide to paint them happier colours to better contrast with that explicit reference to murder.”

The first murder wagon was blessed at a ceremony this morning attended by Auckland mayor Phil Goff, before it was sent out into the community, where it has already triggered several calls to police.

Despite the name emerging from a public vote, the Government is being criticized for “stealing ideas” by Level 4 opposition leader Judith Collins, who pointed out that “The Murder Wagon” was actually the nickname of her 2020 campaign bus.