5 Jul 2021

Jacinda Ardern: Pfizer vaccine shipment will keep rollout 'cranking along'

8:38 am on 5 July 2021

The arrival of 150,000 Pfizer vaccines will keep the vaccine rollout "cranking along", Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says.

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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the largest shipments would arrive in the latter half of July. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

The shipment was flown in on Sunday - two days early.

It arrived though a lot of dedicated work by the Ministry of Health, Pfizer and DHL, she said, and would be going out to district health boards today.

"We were expecting it on Tuesday and of course working very close to the wire we distributed all the supply we had out to DHBs, so this means we will be able to keep the rollout cranking along and that we won't see any change in people's booked vaccinations.

It was a very welcome arrival, with about 130,000 vaccines being distributed in New Zealand each week.

"Because we've been ramping up our rollout and our deliveries have been generally been much smaller weekly, this now means we're well covered for the week ahead."

Pfizer have confirmed that 1 million doses will arrive this month, she said.

"We've never had any issue with them not delivering what they say they are going to deliver, the issue has been that we get around four weeks' notice, often, of what we will be receiving, and because we have been scaling up our campaign we have been distributing what we have in stores out in anticipation of this July month.

"Up until now we've put 1.2 million doses out, so you can see how significant July is for us in terms of our ability to ramp up.

"We're looking for something similar next week, so then it's in the latter half of July that we see the larger shipments arriving."

Ardern said the government knew there was a point in July when it was going to be tight, with the decision not to hold back vaccines in storage. "If we got to a 24-hour period when we had to move bookings, so be it. But we didn't have to do that."

"In that third week we get that extra, that bigger delivery that enables us to scale up. That's why we talk about the 28th of July as when we start booking those new age ranges."

Ardern said Medsafe was continuing the approval process for the Janssen and AstraZenenca vaccines.

"Any delays have in part just been whether or not we've received the data in order for Medsafe to make their assessment."

"We expect that Janssen will have a bit more to say on that, possibly this week, but when it comes to the decision to use it and how it will be used, that then follows with a Cabinet decision."

The government wanted Pfizer to be the primary vaccine but to have options available, it will complete the Janssen process and Cabinet will consider whether it wants to use it.

Trans-Tasman bubble

Adern said Cabinet will today discuss what to do about New Zealanders who have been stuck in Australia with the closure of the travel bubble.

As of this morning, those in Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and ACT can travel to New Zealand without quarantine. Passengers will have to have evidence of a negative pre-departure test with 72 hours of boarding.

"New South Wales, I anticipate taking a bit of time, of course they're still in a form of lockdown," Ardern said

"We want to see the same things we look for in New Zealand, a slowing of those community cases, real confidence that it's contained, and we'll be looking to their own use of restrictions.

Cabinet would today discuss what to do about New Zealanders who had been in Australia for some time.

"I anticipate we will just take a similar approach to Victoria," Ardern said. Ministers will look at how long people had been in lockdown and how likely it was that they may have come into contact with any cases or been at a location of interest, and the addition of pre-departure testing.

"We'll consider all those today, alongside possible timeline around of reopening those other states."

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