Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Vaccine deep freeze underway

A South Island hub and 17 new ultra-low temperature freezers will help further prepare New Zealand for the ramp up of the vaccination programme in the second half of this year, COVID-19 Response Minister, Chris Hipkins said today.

The new freezers arrived in New Zealand on 27 May and are currently being tested and accredited for use by the end of the month.

“This is the next step in getting the country ready to deliver 50,000 vaccinations a day at the peak of our vaccination campaign,” Minister Hipkins says.

“Five of the new freezers have arrived in Christchurch, adding to the two already there, to ensure we have a second hub with capacity to deliver vaccines across the South Island and lower North Island.

“The 12 remaining ultra-low temperature freezers will be based in Auckland, bringing the total number to 26 freezers – 23 operating and three as back-up – across New Zealand.

“This will be enough storage for four million doses at any one time.”

He said having two vaccination hubs and back-up freezers prepared New Zealand for any potential risks, such as earthquakes or other major disruptions to the roll-out.

“This is the largest and most complex exercise the health system in New Zealand has ever undertaken and we want to ensure we are prepared for anything,” Mr Hipkins said.

All shipments of the Pfizer vaccine currently go to Auckland, but as larger shipments start to arrive they will be flown direct to both Auckland and Christchurch for packing and distribution. The freezers cost up to $20,000 each.

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