9 Jun 2021

Covid-19 vaccine delivery: 'You don't want to receive everything all at once' - PM

8:38 am on 9 June 2021

The general population is expected to begin getting Covid-19 vaccinations next month, after a million more doses of the Pfizer vaccine land on our shores.

picture taken 26.5.2021

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern plans to get her first Covid-19 shot next week. Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

The delivery will bring the total number of Pfizer vaccine doses received this year to more than 1.9 million.

Almost 1 million New Zealanders will be able to be vaccinated with the July delivery.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will get her first shot next week.

Ardern said she there had been "a little bit of anxiety" about vaccine delivery in June and July, but she was confident Pfizer would provide all the vaccine doses the country needed.

"There has been no suggestion they would not deliver across our agreement and our contract," she said.

"The only question was 'how smooth will that delivery be?'

"Will we end up in one quarter getting the majority right at the end, or will it be across the course of the quarter?"

New Zealand had been receiving Pfizer vaccines that had eight weeks of shelf life and needed to be stored at ultra-low temperatures, Ardern said.

It was therefore vital that deliveries be staggered, she said.

"You don't want to receive everything all at once."

The coming shipments will be able to be stored at higher temperatures of between 2C and 8C for up to 30 days.

"That has made it less logistically challenging for more of our rural and isolated communities, which should lessen the likelihood that we will have to use other vaccines.

"We've got enough for all New Zealanders - so that's been our goal to be able to offer the vaccine across the board."

The government had ordered vaccines from other pharmaceutical companies, but would ensure nothing was wasted, Ardern said.

Some orders could be taken up at a later date, when booster shots were needed, she said.

"We're donating 1.2 million doses to other countries, but of course only donating those things that we ourselves have regulatory approval for."

New Zealand College of General Practitioners medical director Bryan Betty said there was widespread confusion about who was currently able to get the vaccine.

Dr Bryan Betty of Porirua Union and Community Health.

Confusion over who can get Covid-19 vaccines is rife, says New Zealand College of General Practitioners medical director Bryan Betty. Photo: RNZ / Karen Brown

"Different DHBs are doing slightly different things in terms of how they're targeting the population," Betty said.

"That's invariably leading to confusion across the country about where to get vaccinated and how to get vaccinated.

"GPs are fielding a large amount of questions about the vaccine and when patients can be vaccinated."

Ardern confirmed that District Health Boards were currently responsible for contacting people to let them know when they would be able to get the vaccine.

She said there would be an announcement next week about a nationally coordinated vaccination programme that would begin in July.

This programme would allow people to book Covid-19 vaccinations online, by phone and by visiting a GP, Ardern said.

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