The largest shipment of the Pfizer vaccine to date has arrived into New Zealand two days ahead of schedule, and doses are already being delivered to vaccination centres around the country, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins has confirmed.
“The shipment of more than 370,000 doses reached New Zealand yesterday, following a complex logistical exercise carried out jointly by Pfizer, DHL and the Ministry of Health’s logistics team,” Mr Hipkins said.
“The arrival came after some dedicated work got the vaccines onto an earlier than expected connecting freight flight from Singapore. The Ministry’s logistics team then worked through the weekend to coordinate with the flight schedule and be ready for the vaccine’s arrival into Auckland International Airport.
“The shipment was processed immediately at our Auckland depot, which means deliveries could be sent smoothly and efficiently to district health board sites where the stock buffer was the smallest.
“The team work also ensured everything was set up for delivery to other sites from first thing this morning.”
He said 15 sites had received shipments from the newly arrived stock yesterday, while 104 would receive stocks of the vaccine today – a day earlier than planned.
“Teams on the ground in DHBs have been managing their stocks but towards the end of last week, margins were again getting tight in some of our larger population areas,” the Minister said.
“This big delivery – with further significant shipments to arrive during the final two weeks of July and into August – is a massive boost for the national programme.
“Demand for the vaccine continues to be high, particularly in our bigger cities, and we’ve consistently said we want to have the doses out of storage and into arms.
“With the rollout continuing to sit at around 6 percent ahead of plan, it’s important we continue to do everything we can to get supply out to vaccination centres as quickly as possible.
“We expect this momentum to continue over the remainder of July and into August, with Pfizer having committed to deliver more than 1.5m doses into New Zealand next month.
“That’ll represents our biggest monthly delivery to date and is fantastic news for the ongoing ramp up of our roll-out.
“We’ll continue to manage and monitor vaccine supplies coming into the country against increasing demand as the vaccination programme gathers momentum,” Mr Hipkins said.