8 Jun 2021

Covid-19 vaccine: Pfizer set to deliver another 1m doses

4:00 pm on 8 June 2021

New Zealand will receive a further 1 million doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine next month.

A nurse takes vials of Comirnaty vaccine by Pfizer-BioNTech against Covid-19 out of a fridge at the Baleone vaccine centre in Ajaccio on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica, on May 13, 2021.

The Pfizer doses will arrive in the country in weekly deliveries, Chris Hipkins says. Photo: AFP

It will bring the total number of Pfizer doses received this year to more than 1,900,000, enough to fully vaccinate almost 1 million New Zealanders.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said it was great news and reassuring to see the country's vaccine supply ramping up.

"It shows our plan for what is the biggest and most complex logistical undertaking ever by the health system is on track.

"The doses will arrive in weekly drops, ramping up in quantity from mid-July as we start to move to the wider population rollout."

Hipkins said the drops would be used to keep vaccinating Groups 1, 2 and 3 while giving the "certainty" needed to start the general population rollout as planned.

"The supplies mean DHBs can keep delivering to their plans and start accelerating their way through Group 3 from mid-July - which is everyone over the age of 65 and people with disabilities and some underlying health conditions.

"It's a group of more than 1 million people and will take time to work through. As we start Group 4, we will significantly ramp up our vaccination efforts."

He said around 20,000 doses a day are currently being administered and July's Pfizer deliveries will "significantly" increase this capacity.

Chris Hipkins

The vaccine supply is about to get a "significant" lift, Chris Hipkins says. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

The government expects to be administering 50,000 doses a day at the peak of the programme in August and September.

"This will add to the significant momentum already being generated by New Zealand's vaccine programme."

Hipkins said over a quarter of a million people had been vaccinated to date.

"That is a pleasing milestone. Our strategy has meant we've largely avoided having to stretch the time between first and second doses as many countries have.

"Work is well advanced to set up more vaccination sites, deliver mass vaccination events, and bring more GPs and pharmacies on-board to help with the rollout.

"While we know the ongoing pandemic can impact vaccine delivery schedules, Pfizer has given us further assurances that the remaining deliveries for 2021 are also on track, just as their deliveries to date have been.

"We have vaccinated more people than we had planned for at this point in time and more than 6800 vaccinators have completed the necessary training to administer the Pfizer vaccine.

"We have at our disposal one of the best vaccines in the world and starting later next month we will start making it available, for free, to everyone in New Zealand over the age of 16."

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