Approximately 10,000 border workers will be vaccinated when the first batches of Covid-19 vaccines arrive in New Zealand, the Ministry of Health says.
Yesterday, the Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said the Government was attempting to obtain a small batch of Covid-19 vaccines early to protect at-risk workers.
"We are exploring some possibilities as to whether or not we can get a smaller number of vaccines earlier to vaccinate our at-risk workers, our border workers, our managed isolation workers," he said.
"If we can do, we will be able to do that very quickly."
Speaking to Breakfast this morning, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said the most likely vaccine to be used in New Zealand would be Pfizer.
The Pfizer vaccine is taken in two doses three weeks apart, according the US Food and Administration's guidelines.
With just border staff alone — which includes managed isolation staff, airport workers, port staff and aircrews — 20,000 vaccines would be needed to inoculate all workers twice.
Other essential staff that would then need to be vaccinated are high-risk health workers and frontline public sector and emergency service staff.
“Once we’ve got them vaccinated and probably their families, the people who are also at high risk, then we start to move out into groups of people who would be at higher risk if they got infected,” Bloomfield said.
Getting border workers vaccinated in the timeframe the Government and Ministry of Health has set out would depend on manufacturers being able to supply the vaccines, Hipkins said.
“Ultimately, they’re working very hard to fulfill their advance purchase agreements,” Hipkins said.
"New Zealand is one player in a very, very large game here in terms of vaccinations."
The earliest the vaccines would arrive is March, with vaccinations for border workers beginning from April, a Government spokesperson said earlier this month.