New Zealand and Australia both received their first batches of the Covid-19 vaccines made by Pfizer, their leaders said Monday.
New Zealand’s shipment includes 60,000 doses, which should be sufficient to monitor its “front-line work force over the coming weeks,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. Vaccines will continue arriving in small increments.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s office said the country received more than 142,000 doses, 80,000 of which will be released starting February 22. Approximately 50,000 will go to states and territories frontline quarantine and health workers, and 30,000 will go to aged care, disability care residents and health care workers.
“The vaccine has landed, and we’re stepping up our fight against the pandemic,” he said.
Australia also secured 53.8 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and 51 million doses of the Novavax vaccine, though those two have not been approved by regulators.
Border staff first in New Zealand: Ardern said authorities expect to start offering the vaccines to border staff and those who work in quarantine or isolation facilities starting on Saturday.
During the course of the week, the vaccine will be tested for quality assurance and once the safety check is complete, doses will be released to start the first phase of the vaccination program.
“We expect to vaccinate all border workers within a two- to three-week period followed by their household contacts,” Ardern said.
The wider population will be vaccinated in the second half of the year due to supply constraints.
Ardern said New Zealand has purchased enough vaccines to cover all residents without charge, regardless of visa status.