Ministry panel expected to approve Pfizer vaccine

Ministry panel expected to approve Pfizer vaccine

"We have been working behind the scenes to secure the timely arrival of vaccines for our border workers and their families and it's great they will arrive well within our scheduled timeframes", says Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Speaking to media in Auckland this morning, Ardern said it would take roughly two to three weeks for all 12,000 frontline workers to receive the jab.

Healthcare workers and high-risk people like the elderly would be next, before vaccinations for the wider population start in the second half of the year. "Never before have we vaccinated our team of five million in such a short space of time", Ardern said.

"The vaccine is important for protecting our health, our economy, our current freedoms", she said.

From February 20, border and MIQ workers in Auckland will be offered the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine. It's pleasing to be receiving doses this early in quarter one.

The Government will only take ownership of the vaccines once they are transferred to its fridges, and Hipkins was unable to comment on how Pfizer was transporting the batches.

The first shipment will be in the low tens of thousands, then in the coming weeks 226,000 vials are expected to arrive by the end of March.

He said 750,000 courses are expected over the first three-quarters of this year.

"That means we should be in a position, all things going to plan, to start vaccinating our border workers from next Saturday, the 20th of February".

But if someone did, Ardern said they would not be fired.

Ardern told reporters that she was not particularly anxious about any healthcare workers refusing the vaccination, as she didn't think many - if any - workers would turn the vaccine down.

"I don't anticipate that being a large issue, these workers absolutely understand how important it is to keep themselves and family members safe".

While in hospital, they returned a positive COVID-19 result.

New Zealand, Ardern said, will be responsible for much of the distribution of the vaccines in the Pacific Islands.

Those working on the front line - including border workers, cleaners, security and nurses who work in managed isolation facilities - will be first to get vaccinated.

"We are so lucky that we can run this campaign in a fashion that means we continue to protect every New Zealander without the experience of those life and death situations that so many other countries are experiencing".

Once they are vaccinated, household contacts of borders workers will be next.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said he expects to begin inoculations by the end of this month, without giving a specific date.

None of the trials undertaken of the Pfizer vaccine included pregnant women so those considering getting the injections should talk to their GP first, Bloomfield said.

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