Prime Minister Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern has announced New Zealand’s first batch of Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is set to arrive in New Zealand this week subject to transportation plans and quality temperature control.
The Prime Minister says the Government has been working behind the scenes to secure the timely arrival of vaccines for New Zealand’s border workers and their families.
“It is great they will arrive well within our scheduled timeframes,” Prime Minister Ardern says.
“Government representatives have been in conversations with Pfizer on a constant basis for the last few weeks.
“We appreciate the effort the company has gone to deliver the first instalment earlier than originally anticipated.
“Last year we indicated the vaccine would arrive in quarter two, and earlier this year we updated that to quarter one - it is pleasing to be receiving doses this early in quarter one.”
The Prime Minister says the arrival of this first batch of doses is an important milestone in New Zealand’s fight against COVID-19.
“We now anticipate further deliveries through quarter one from Pfizer,” she adds.
Prime Minister Ardern adds the priority is border workers, who are expected to be vaccinated within two to three weeks, followed by their household contacts.
Health care and essential workers and those most at risk from COVID-19 will follow in quarter two, before vaccination of the wider population in the second half of the year.
COVID-19 Response Minister, Hon Chris Hipkins says the first vaccinations to border workers were on track to be administered in the same week as the vaccine’s arrival in New Zealand.
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine requires two doses and must be stored at -70 degrees centigrade.
“Systems and processes are in place for the first vaccinations to start once final checks have been completed,” Minister Hipkins says.
“On arrival, the vaccine must be independently tested for quality assurance, which is another important safety check.
“The doses will then be formally released to start the first phase of the vaccination programme.
“We are expecting to start offering the vaccine to our border and MIQ workers on February 20, with the first immunisations given out to those working in the Auckland region,” he says.
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