COVID-19 vaccine’s trial run

Media release

19 February 2021

A small group of vaccinators have given and received their first COVID-19 vaccinations this afternoon (19 February) as part of final preparations before tomorrow’s rollout of New Zealand’s immunisation programme.

“Our trial run at the Auckland quarantine facility today has confirmed our processes and systems are ready ahead of our first official day vaccinating border and MIQ workers tomorrow,” Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said.

“Today we’ve vaccinated 25 Auckland-based vaccinators who will start giving the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to border and MIQ staff from tomorrow. There were two teams involved in today’s trial run.

“This is the first time we’ve used this vaccine and it’s our first vaccine that needs ultra-low temperature storage, so it’s important we check and fine-tune our processes and give vaccinators an opportunity to handle the vaccine.

“It’s appropriate to protect our vaccinators who will play an important role in the coming weeks and months. These vaccinators will start administering vaccines to frontline border and MIQ workers from tomorrow.

“Earlier this week, we did a ‘dry run’, which focused on challenging immunisation teams in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch to practise responding to a number of scenarios that deviate from the usual vaccine process.

“We’ll start to vaccinate border and MIQ workers at the Auckland quarantine facility tomorrow, and have chosen to do it at their workplace to make it as easy as possible for them to get vaccinated.

“Next Monday we’ll roll out the programme in Wellington and Christchurch on Wednesday, before starting to vaccinate the rest of New Zealand’s about 12,000 border and MIQ workers over the next few weeks.

“Border and MIQ workers are most at-risk of coming into contact with the COVID-19 virus and that’s why we’re offering to vaccinate them first to better protect them. Once they’ve been vaccinated, we’ll start vaccinating their household contacts.

“We’re confident we’re ready for tomorrow’s rollout, which is a significant milestone in New Zealand’s fight against COVID-19.

“Rolling out our immunisation programme across Aotearoa will take a full year – we’re not in a race to be first, but we are committed to ensuring safe and timely access to COVID-19 vaccines for everyone in New Zealand,” Dr Bloomfield said.

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