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New Zealand has started its official rollout of Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine, marking what the director general of health described as a significant step in the fight against Covid.
A small group of medical professionals were injected on Friday in Auckland ahead of the wider rollout which was officially starting with border staff and Managed Isolation and Quarantine workers on Saturday, officials said.
“A milestone that protects those at highest risk of getting the virus and helping to reduce the risk of spreading into the community,” Dr Ashley Bloomfield said.
On Friday, nearly 30 vaccinators received their jabs and on Saturday the first 70 border workers received their injections. The wider rollout will begin on Monday.
“Today, we kick off the largest immunisation programme in our history, by vaccinating the first of our border workforce, a critical step in protecting everyone in Aotearoa,” Bloomfield told reporters in Auckland.
“We will be moving through these first few days and weeks in a measured way to make sure our systems and processes are solid.”
The first border worker vaccinated worked as a family support officer at the Jet Park hotel in Auckland and said she felt “privileged and honoured” to get the jab.
“For me it’s not about being first, it’s all about you know having this opportunity to be able to get vaccinated, so I think for me that was important, so you know we’re in it together and we all got done at the same time, so I think we’re just very fortunate to be able to have that done,” Lynette Faiva said.
Jabs for around 12,000 border and managed quarantine workers will be staggered so not all staff receive their dose on the same day. It will take several weeks to complete the process and individuals will need a second shot within 21 days.
Once the first group of workers is complete, members of their household contacts will follow, Bloomfield said.
New Zealand expects its nationwide rollout covering the country’s population of 5 million will take a full year.
No new Covid-19 infections were reported in the community in the previous 24 hours despite tens of thousands of tests, officials said. Authorities continued to investigate how a strain of a highly transmissible UK variant was found in three members of an Auckland family.
Reuters contributed to this report
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: New Zealand begins Covid vaccine rollout, starting with border workers | Coronavirus