New details about the timetable for vaccination in New Zealand has just been announced by the minister for the Covid-19 response, Chris Hipkins. Here’s what we know so far.
What’s the latest?
The pledge is to see two million New Zealanders in the most at-risk groups start the vaccination process by the end of June.
Who goes first?
Border workers, their families and household contacts are already vaccinated or soon to be vaccinated. Frontline health workers are next. Then come people aged over 75, then people aged over 65 and those with underlying health conditions or disabilities. And then: the rest of us. See below for the four groups, who’s in them, and when they get the vaccine.
Those of us in the ‘rest of us’ category: when do we get the jab?
From July onwards.
When will we get more detail on that?
Hipkins: “As we get closer to May … we will be able to share more information, including details of larger-scale events where we’ll be making vaccines available to larger groups of people.” It will partly depend on certainty around the delivery of batches, he said.
How has the queue for the first two million been arranged?
Those “most at risk of getting and spreading Covid-19 and those most at risk of getting seriously sick from it” are the priority in the next phase of the roll-out, Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins said. “Our plan is clear – first protect those most at risk of picking up the virus in their workplace, reducing the risk of future outbreaks and lockdowns and then protecting those most at risk of getting seriously ill if they get the virus. Our sequencing plan provides certainty to the over two million Kiwis who can expect to start being vaccinated during the initial stages of our roll-out over the next three-to-four months.”
Hipkins called it a “balanced plan that prioritises reducing the chance of future outbreaks while protecting our elders, those with underlying health conditions and those who live in locations where we know outbreaks have occurred”.
When do I get the Covid-19 vaccine?
Here are the four groups, as detailed by government:
Who? Border workers and workers in mandatory isolation and quarantine facilities, as well as their household contacts.
How many? About 50,000.
When? Started in February and ongoing; the “vast bulk” are expected to have had at least the first dose by the end of this month.
Who? Frontline workers in health and the community, people living in high-risk settings, including anyone who lives in the Counties Manukau DHB area and (a) is 65 and older or (b) has an underlying health condition. (More details below.)
How many? About 417,000 people.
When? Started in February, will continue to May.
Who? Priority populations: Anyone aged over 75, followed by anyone aged over 65, followed by anyone with underlying health conditions or disabilities (see below for details).
How many? Approximately 1.7 million people.
When? From May.
Who? The rest of the population.
How many? About two million people.
When? From July.
What about South Auckland?
“Approximately 40,000 courses are being allocated to Māori and Pacific providers who are working directly with older people, and we are also recognising the special circumstances of South Auckland,” Chris Hipkins said. “Anyone who lives in the Counties Manukau DHB area who is 65 and older or who has an underlying health condition is also in Group 2. This recognises that there are many border operations and MIQ facilities and their workforces based in this area.”
Any other categories?
Hipkins said two other categories were being explored. One is people who may need to get a vaccine on compassionate grounds. The other is a “national significance category”, which would include “groups who need a vaccine in order to represent New Zealand overseas”.
He said: “Decisions around these categories will be made at Cabinet in coming weeks.”
Where will people be vaccinated?
Hipkins again: “Workers and residents of long-term residential care environments will get the vaccine at their workplace. There will also be Māori and Pacific providers, pop-up centres, GPs, medical and hauora centres, community clinics and larger scale events.”
Ashley Bloomfield said a new vaccination centre had been established in South Auckland, with a focus on families of border workers. That was currently able to put through 150 people a day but that would be soon scaled up to 1,000.
Two other large-scale vaccination centres, in west and central Auckland, would be established “in coming weeks”.
More than 900 people had now been trained up to administer the Pfizer vaccine across the country. Hipkins promised that an online tool to “help people find out when they can get the vaccine” will be launched shortly. The tool will let people “take people through a series of questions to work out when it’ll be their turn”.
Who are ‘frontline healthcare workers’?
Vaccines are being targeted to health workers as part of Group 2 in two tranches. First, around 57,000 frontline health workers “who could potentially be exposed to Covid-19 while providing care”.
Second are around 183,000 health care workers who would expose people to risk in the unlikely event they contracted Covid. These include: emergency services and hospitals, long-term residential care, hospices, Oranga Tamariki and Youth Justice, Corrections, Defence, mental health and addiction services, transitional residences for the homeless, home support workers, community and NGO services, all community public health teams, diagnostics and Covid-19 management teams at DHBs.
Who are ‘people living in high-risk settings’?
The approximately 234,000 people in this category include:
- People in the Counties Manukau District Health Board area who are older or with relevant health conditions.
- People in long-term residential care where a high proportion of residents are at risk of severe health outcomes if they contract Covid-19 (eg aged residential care)
- Older people living in a whānau environment where those they live with face a similar risk to those in aged residential care. (“This group will be supported by Māori and Pacific providers, and an initial allocation of 40,000 courses will be provided to Māori and Pacific providers to distribute.”)
What are ‘underlying health conditions’?
These include coronary heart disease, hypertension, stroke, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease/chronic respiratory conditions, kidney disease and cancer. It also includes people who are pregnant
Do I have to pay for the vaccine?
How many doses are required?
What kind of vaccines will be used?
Jacinda Ardern announced on Monday that New Zealand had purchased enough doses of the Pfizer vaccine to cover the population. There are smaller numbers of other manufacturers’ vaccines on order, too, but, “the decision to make Pfizer New Zealand’s primary vaccine provider was based on the fact the Pfizer vaccine has been shown to be about 95% effective at preventing symptomatic infection”, said Ardern in a statement. “It will simplify, in some respects, our vaccine rollout.”
The Pfizer vaccine is the only one to have the green light from the New Zealand regulator Medsafe so far. Still awaiting the seal of approval are the Janssen vaccine (5 million courses on order), the AstraZeneca (3.8m) and Novavax (5.36m).
What about the excess orders then?
They could hit pause on the surplus vaccines until 2022, freeing up urgent supply for other countries, said Ardern on Monday. Talks are under way, too, with neighbours in the Pacific, whom New Zealand has pledged to provide a supply.
How does the vaccine work?
The – deep breath – Pfizer/BioNTech messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine, Comirnaty™ or BNT162b2, carries a synthetic version of the genetic material that codes for the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. And, well, Siouxsie and Toby have you covered.
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