COVID-19: Vaccine strategy and planning

Vaccinations will be rolled-out through a COVID-19 Immunisation Programme. We're putting in place the infrastructure, logistics, training and technology to support this.

Last updated: 2 March 2021

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Immunisation programme

Vaccines will be rolled out through a COVID-19 Immunisation Programme. This will be New Zealand’s largest immunisation roll-out ever. We’ve never attempted an immunisation programme of this scale, cost or complexity.

Getting a vaccine

Vaccine strategy

New Zealand’s COVID-19 Vaccine Strategy uses expertise from across government. It sets the steps we must take so we have the infrastructure, regulations and relationships in place for COVID-19 vaccines.

COVID-19 Vaccine strategy
New Zealand’s elimination strategy

Scaling up the workforce

Outside our regular vaccination workforce of general practitioners, nurses and pharmacists we’re planning for an extra 2,000-3,000 full time vaccinators. They’ll be trained and available when needed throughout New Zealand. 

The workforce will continue to scale up during 2021 in line with vaccine delivery schedules.

Recruitment and training

We’re working with other partners across the health and disability system to engage additional vaccinator capacity across New Zealand. DHBs are assessing their current capacity to vaccinate within their regions.

Vaccinators will be sourced from:

  • non-practicing nurses, doctors, or pharmacists
  • final year medical, nursing and pharmacy students (with clinical oversight)
  • other health professionals who have vaccinations within their scope of practice (including dentists and physiotherapists).

If you’re interested in being a vaccinator

We’re looking for additional vaccinators to support the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. If you’re a retired health professional or not currently working in the health workforce and want to volunteer, you can register your interest.

COVID-19 Surge Workforce database
Email: [email protected]

COVID-19 vaccine training

The Immunisation Advisory Centre will provide training on the COVID-19 vaccines. This is expected to start in February 2021 and will be available online as well as face-to-face, across the country.

Immunisation Advisory Centre

Infrastructure and logistics

Over $66 million has been allocated to support the roll out of the vaccine. Most of this investment is to pay for enough supplies to vaccinate our entire population and support our Pacific Realm countries.

Medical supplies

This includes, for example, personal protective equipment (PPE), needles, syringes and swabs.

Freezer storage and distribution

We’ve purchased nine large -80°C freezers that can store more than 1.5 million doses of vaccine. These will become our central storage facility for vaccine that requires ultra-low temperatures (the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine).

We plan to distribute vaccines from our central storage facilities in a very controlled way to our cold chain network nationwide.

Work is underway to assess what expansion is needed to our cold chain nationwide to make sure we’re ready to distribute COVID-19 vaccine across the country. Some vaccines can be stored for up to five days in normal cold chain fridges in temperatures from 2-8°C.

Technology and systems

Immunisation register

The National Immunisation Register (NIR) hold records for all immunisations given to children in New Zealand, as well as some adults. We’re developing a replacement NIR system – the National Immunisation Solution (NIS).

NIS will allow health workers to record vaccinations anywhere, anytime. The public will be able to digitally access their own immunisation records.

The first iteration of the system will be available to fully support a COVID-19 vaccine roll-out and additional functionality will be added through further iterations.

Inventory management system

We’re developing an inventory management system for COVID-19 vaccines. This will hold information about where the vaccines are located, as well as volumes and temperature.

The system will help us track and trace COVID-19 vaccines and consumables, including their expiry dates to minimise wastage.

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