Second batch of Pfizer/BioNTech doses arrives safely – as the first vaccinations take place in the South Island
A second batch of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines arrived safely yesterday at Auckland International Airport, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says.
“This shipment contained about 76,000 doses, and follows our first shipment of 60,000 doses that arrived last week. We expect further shipments of vaccine over the coming weeks,” Chris Hipkins said.
“As with the first shipment, quality assurance and checks by Medsafe are underway.
“By the end of March, we’re due to receive a total of about 450,000 doses – enough to vaccinate 225,000 people with a two-dose course.
“The Ministry of Health is working with Pfizer/BioNTech to develop a delivery schedule for the vaccines that ensures a smooth rollout and scaling up of our immunisation programme as we rollout to the general public in mid-year.
“We started our immunisation programme to around 12,000 border and managed isolation and quarantine workers last Saturday, and once completed, we’ll begin vaccinating their household contacts,” Chris Hipkins said.
Meanwhile, around 40 border workers from Christchurch Airport were vaccinated this morning, the first to do so in the South Island.
“This passes a milestone of the first 1000 border workers and vaccinators in New Zealand to receive their first dose. That’s a great start and we appreciate the effort of the vaccinators and border workers,” Chris Hipkins said.
“They included aviation security workers, cleaners, police, customs workers and health protection officers who screen passengers arriving on international flights.
“It’s pleasing to see the gradual scale up of vaccines being administered among this tier one group, as planned, as processes at each site are fine tuned. Numbers will start to pick up from here.”
Chris Hipkins said a shipment of 490,000 special-purpose needles also arrived yesterday to New Zealand, which will help vaccination teams maximise safe usage of the vaccine.
“Making the most of every vial of the vaccine and avoiding waste will help to ensure the successful rollout of our immunisation programme,” Chris Hipkins said.