New Zealand confirms COVID-19 vaccinations criteria for urgent overseas travel

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WELLINGTON, March 25 (Xinhua) — New Zealand government has confirmed strict criteria for early vaccinations for people who need to travel outside of New Zealand on compassionate grounds or for reasons of national significance, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins announced on Wednesday.

Two weeks ago the government set out the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out plan, beginning with those most at risk of getting and spreading COVID-19 and those most at risk of getting seriously sick from it.

“The government has carefully considered circumstances where there is a genuine need for people to be vaccinated urgently in order to travel overseas,” Hipkins said.

“A high threshold has been set, which will balance compassion with the need to avoid potential queue jumping ahead of at-risk groups, without a strong justification. These provisions will not extend to vaccinations for new arrivals or returnees.”

Even before people will be considered, they will need to satisfy a series of criteria, including being a New Zealand citizen, resident or visa holder, needing to travel before Aug. 31 2021, and having already made arrangements for returning to New Zealand.

“People should also ensure they will be able to receive both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine prior to their departure,” Hipkins said.

The second round of COVID-19 vaccine doses for border and managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facility workers is underway, with the first cohort of workers who were vaccinated four weeks ago returning for their final doses, according to the Ministry of Health.

Over 2 million New Zealanders most at risk of getting and spreading COVID-19 or getting seriously sick from COVID-19 are expected to start being vaccinated over the next three to four months. The rest of the population will be able to be vaccinated from July onwards. The government’s plan is to have as many people as possible vaccinated by the end of the year, according to the Ministry of Health. Enditem

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