New Zealand’s first COVID-19 vaccine to arrive this week

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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.

Government representatives have been in conversations with Pfizer on a constant basis for the last few weeks to deliver the first instalment earlier than originally anticipated.

The first priority in the roll out will be is our border workers, who we expect to vaccinate within 2 to 3 weeks followed by their whānau. Healthcare and essential workers and those most at risk from COVID-19 which we expect will include many Māori over 50 years will follow in quarter 2, before vaccination of the wider population in the second half of the year.

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 2 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.

Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 vaccines

Will the vaccines be free and voluntary?
The COVID-19 vaccination will be free of charge.
It will not be mandatory. You can choose whether to get vaccinated.

Who can get the vaccines?
The government is expecting enough vaccines for every New Zealander – over 5 million people.
Vaccines have also been bought for those in the Cook Islands, Niue, Tokelau, Sāmoa, Tonga and Tuvalu.
All New Zealanders will be able to choose whether to get vaccinated.

What type of vaccines will be available?
New Zealand has secured COVID-19 vaccines with four suppliers.
Different vaccines have been purchased to allow for the possibility of some being more suited to different population groups or areas.

The first agreement is for 1.5 million vaccines from Pfizer and BioNTech. This is enough for 750,000 people – each person will need two doses of this vaccination, about two weeks apart.

The government has also agreed to purchase 10.72 million doses of the Novavax vaccine. This vaccine needs two doses. Enough for 5.36 million people. This vaccine is not expected to be available until later in 2021.

An agreement of 7.6 million doses has also been signed with AstraZeneca.
This vaccine needs two doses which is enough for 3.8 million people.
The AstraZeneca vaccine is ‘fridge-stable’, which may allow for a more efficient rollout. This means it’s compatible with existing storage and distribution channels.

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