Vaccine relief for NZ, Ardern to get jab

·2-min read

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will be vaccinated against COVID-19 next week as the New Zealand government confirms much-needed supply of vaccine from Pfizer.

On Tuesday, the government announced Pfizer had committed to supplying one million vaccine doses during July - doubling the total to arrive in New Zealand so far.

As the massive new drop of doses keeps NZ's rollout on schedule, Ms Ardern has decided to get the jab as a role model to the population.

"I'm choosing to be vaccinated at this point in order to play my role in demonstrating that I consider it to be absolutely safe - but also really critical to keep others safe," she said.

Ms Ardern has held off on her vaccination until now, saying she wanted border workers and health workers to go first.

She will receive her first dose of the two-dose Pfizer treatment at the end of next week.

Her stance contrasts with that of Scott Morrison, who was among the first to be vaccinated in Australia in February, while wearing an Australian flag face mask.

Like Australia, NZ began its vaccination rollout in February, prioritising border and health workers, as well as vulnerable populations such as the elderly.

Both countries have enjoyed largely successful fights against COVID by global standards, but have been plagued by problems with mass vaccination.

Mmany people from NZ's border workforce still have not been vaccinated, despite a pledge to wrap up that tranche first.

NZ's national vaccination program is running at glacial pace, sitting at 119th in the world for first doses distributed per capita.

However, the slow speed is to script.

Ms Ardern's government planned to vaccinate the general population beginning in July.

The arrival of one million doses, as confirmed by Pfizer, now allows that to happen.

COVID-19 Minister Chris Hipkins has confessed to nerves and anxiety around the buildup, and showed his relief at the confirmation on Tuesday.

"This is great news and reassuring to see our vaccine supply ramping up," he said.

"It shows our plan for what is the biggest and most complex logistical undertaking ever by the health system is on track.

"The drops will enable us to continue vaccinating Groups 1,2, and 3, while giving us the certainty needed to start the general population rollout as planned."

Ms Ardern said she "breathed a sigh of relief" when she learned of the delivery schedule.

The government has pledged to vaccinate every consenting adult resident in New Zealand this year, saying it remains on track to do so.

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