Covid-19 vaccine to be free as soon as 'available and safe', Governor-General says on behalf of Ardern

The Government is aiming to make the Covid-19 vaccine free "as soon as they are available and safe to administer", Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy said today in the Speech from the Throne. 

It was also confirmed that planning for quarantine-free travel zones is currently underway with the Cook Islands, Niue and Australia.

The Speech from the Throne is written by the Prime Minister and delivered by the Governor-General. One of its purposes is to lay out Government's direction for the term and what it will focus on. 

The Governor-General said the Government's objectives were to keep New Zealanders safe from Covid, accelerate the economic recovery and to "lay the foundations for a better future".

"For those countries where the virus is successfully managed, the Government will look for opportunities for freer travel. We will look to continue to advance these opportunities, but with safety as our priority."

Dame Patsy then said that the Government was "hopeful that 2021 will be the year of the Covid vaccine".

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The Prime Minister says she needs more time before making any changes at the border, though. Source: 1 NEWS

"Recent news of the progress in vaccine development is welcome and a bright spot on the horizon," Dame Patsy read. "This will be a central focus for the Government next year.

"The Government is working to deliver effective and free vaccines to New Zealanders as soon as they are available and safe to administer."

The Government has agreed to buy vaccines from Pfizer and Janssen, subject to the successful completion of clinical trials and passing necessary approvals in New Zealand.

Last week, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said they had not yet decided whether it would be free, the Spinoff reported. 

In the Speech to the Throne, Dame Patsy said New Zealand "faces the greatest public health emergency since the global flu pandemic a century ago".

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The address by Dame Patsy Reddy comes after each of the MPs were sworn in yesterday. Source: 1 NEWS

"The ensuing economic shock represents the largest global downturn since the Great Depression," Dame Patsy read. 

She said the health risk posed by the pandemic was greater now than when New Zealand first closed its borders. 

"We have more freedoms, are a more open economy and have saved more lives than nearly every other country we normally compare ourselves to.  We can rightfully be proud of our success to date as a nation, as a team.  But we cannot afford to be complacent, nor stand still. 

"We must keep going."

The speech committed the Government to "being a Government that will govern for all New Zealanders"

"It does mean it will have a focus on the things that matter most, it means it will be listening to New Zealanders, being pragmatic, doing the things it said it would do and focusing on lasting change.

"We can recover and we will recover. We can be better than we were.

"This Government’s mission is to make it so."