Cabin crew, pilots among thousands of Air NZ staff to get first Covid-19 vaccination tomorrow

Around 3800 Air New Zealand workers are set to get their first jab of the Covid-19 vaccine tomorrow as part of the priority group to be vaccinated.

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Immunisation experts Dr Anthony Jordan and Dr Maia Brewerton explain how the jab works. Source: Breakfast

Cabin crew and pilots are among those at the front of the queue, as well as airport, cargo and line maintenance crew in Auckland and Christchurch, the airline says.

The frontline workers are among the Kiwis prioritised to get the first batch of the Pfizer vaccine, which requires two separate doses several weeks apart for full immunity.

In a statement today, Air New Zealand says the people due to get their jabs are part of the group "which has played an important role in protecting New Zealand’s borders and community".

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Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield has vowed to take the jab publicly to show his confidence in the vaccine. Source: 1 NEWS

Chief medical officer Dr Ben Johnston says while it won't be mandatory, they are "strongly encouraging" their staff to get vaccinated.

"We are working hard with our people to ensure everyone understands how the vaccine works, the benefits of receiving it and key safety information so they can make an informed decision," he says.

Air NZ aircraft. Source: Getty

"We welcome the Government’s decision to prioritise border workers for vaccines as a means of protecting the people who are most at risk of contracting Covid-19 in New Zealand. 

"A safe and effective vaccine is a vital step towards the long-term control of Covid-19, and eventually allowing our borders to open to international travel."

An international trial for the vaccine initially found the vaccine was 95 per cent effective at preventing Covid-19 infection among those vaccinated.

However questions remain around its ability to prevent transmission — meaning whether someone who is vaccinated can still catch the virus and pass it on to someone else.

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A recent study in Israel, which has seen more Covid vaccines distributed per capita than anywhere else in the world, indicates the vaccine could be 89.4 per cent effective at preventing infection to others. 

The study is yet to be peer-reviewed and some experts say it's likely the true reduction in transmission is lower than that estimate.