New Zealand prepares for Phase 1 of vaccination rollout

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WELLINGTON, Feb. 18 (Xinhua) — A dry run of the end-to-end process shows New Zealand’s COVID-19 vaccination program is ready to roll from Saturday, when the first border workers will receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said on Thursday.

The trial run took place in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch on Wednesday, ahead of the vaccination program formally kicking off on Saturday. The first batch of COVID-19 vaccines arrived in New Zealand on Monday. The vaccine will be offered to border and managed isolation workers, with the first immunizations given out to those working in the Auckland region.

“Officials have been working on logistics for months, and the dry run gave them an opportunity to stress test the system, identify any gaps and put plans in place for any event,” Hipkins said in a statement.

Testing included things such as vaccines being dropped and technology systems being temporarily unavailable, and included the arrival of a thermal protection box used to transport the vaccine to validate the safe and secure handover process, according to the minister.

“The final steps in preparing for the first border workers to receive their vaccines on Saturday and for the start of the overall programme, will include the vaccinators who will vaccinate the border workers receiving the vaccines themselves. This will take place tomorrow,” Hipkins said.

“While our workforce modelling shows we only need 100 vaccinators to immunise everyone who works at our border, we already have more than that who have completed the necessary training to administer the Pfizer vaccines, and hundreds more set to complete it in coming weeks,” he added. Enditem

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