Government 'proactively' discussing Covid-19 vaccine rollout to Pacific

February 12, 2021

By Elijah Fa'afiu - elijah.fa'

The Prime Minister says the government is "proactively" discussing the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines to the Pacific, following the announcement that New Zealand’s first batch is to arrive next week.

Jacinda Ardern says the discussion is around how they can overcome distribution issues surrounding the Pfizer/BioNTech and other vaccines.

“As you’ve heard, specific equipment needed for transportation, very limited timeframe that can be outside of that equipment, so these are things that we’re actively working through.

“We’ll be looking to really have conversations with our counterparts in the Pacific around what might be possible with some of those trickier vaccines so that we can see similar levels of protections provided in the Pacific at the same time as we might be seeing that in New Zealand.”

The arrival of the first vaccine shipment in New Zealand will mean border workers can receive a vaccination next Saturday.

This process will take place over the next two to three weeks.

Following border workers will be their household contacts, before healthcare and essential workers and at-risk groups are prioritised in the second quarter of the year.

“It’s going to take all year to reach everyone,” says Ardern.​

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says border workers will be vaccinated at their workplaces, while household contacts will be asked to go to a dedicated place for their jabs.

Vaccine rollout campaigns 'could overwhelm' Pacific communities 

Wellington District Health Board’s Director for Pacific Health says the Ministry of Health’s range of vaccine rollouts "could overwhelm" Pacific communities, and need careful handling.

The Health Ministry will be running a number of vaccine campaigns for Covid-19, MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) and the flu.

Dr Junior Ulu says having all three campaigns at the same time could intimidate Pacific people, which they’re preparing for.

“We’re just making sure that there’s health education at that community level so that people don’t feel petrified or they don’t feel intimidated by this process.

“There’s really good Pacific primary health professionals and clinicians that are part of the conversation, just to ensure that rollout happens in a way that’s not scary for our people and they have an understanding of it.”