Final preparations to ensure Phase 1 of the vaccination rollout is ready to go

A dry run of the end-to-end process shows New Zealand’s COVID-19 vaccination programme is ready to roll from Saturday, when the first border workers will receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says.

“The trial run took place in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch yesterday afternoon, ahead of the vaccination programme formally kicking off on Saturday,” Chris Hipkins said.

“Officials have been working on logistics for months, and the dry run gave them an opportunity to stress test the system, identify any gaps and put plans in place for any event.

“Inevitably, there will be some challenges with logistics as we mount the biggest vaccination campaign in our history. The system we’ve set up for phase 1 – vaccinating the border workers – is robust and flexible, but the more planning we do the better the outcome will be, as we continue to scale up the system.

“Testing included things such as vaccines being dropped and technology systems being temporarily unavailable, and included the arrival of a thermal protection box used to transport the vaccine to validate the safe and secure handover process.

“The final steps in preparing for the first border workers to receive their vaccines on Saturday and for the start of the overall programme, will include the vaccinators who will vaccinate the border workers receiving the vaccines themselves. This will take place tomorrow,” Chris Hipkins said.

“While our workforce modelling shows we only need 100 vaccinators to immunise everyone who works at our border, we already have more than that who have completed the necessary training to administer the Pfizer vaccines, and hundreds more set to complete it in coming weeks.”