New Zealand's first Covid-19 vaccine given provisional approval

February 03, 2021


New Zealand’s first Covid-19 vaccine has been provisionally approved for use around the country.

It comes after a robust assessment of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine’s safety, effectiveness and quality by medicines regulator Medsafe.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says the first phase of rolling out the vaccine can now begin.

“Following Medsafe’s approval, Ministry of Health officials will give advice to the Government this week about the ‘decision to use’ the vaccine. This will essentially set out who are most suited to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, such as age ranges.”

The first batch of the vaccine is expected to arrive in the country at the end of March.

Among the first to receive the vaccine are managed isolation and border workers and the people they live with.

This includes cleaners, nurses, security staff, customs and border officials, airline staff and hotel workers.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she has confidence in Medsafe’s decision.

“They’ve been in regular contact with medicines regulators around the world where the vaccine is already being rolled out. 

“Allowing some time to study the vaccine roll-out overseas has provided extra assurance before starting our vaccination programme here.”

Ardern says the provisional approval is a positive step in New Zealand’s fight against Covid-19.

“We’re not in a race to be first, but to ensure safe and timely access to vaccines for all New Zealanders.”