An official date has been announced for Northland's first jabs to be delivered in the biggest vaccination project New Zealand has ever seen.
March 1 will see around 300 Northland border staff, largely made up of Northport workers, be the first in the region to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine.
Vaccinations will then be offered to around 900 household contacts of border workers before frontline healthcare officials, essential workers and immunocompromised people.
While the vaccine is set to protect people from the effects of the virus, the Ministry of Health says it is too early for researchers to determine whether the virus can still be transmitted by a vaccinated person.
Mandatory testing of border and MIQ workers will continue as the ministry operates under the assumption there is still a risk of transmission.
Twenty-five Auckland-based vaccinators were the first people immunised on Friday as part of a trial run to check and fine-tune the processes involved in the national rollout.
Auckland Jet Park Hotel managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) worker Lynette Faiva became the first country's first border worker to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine on Saturday.
She said it was a privilege to be the first and she was grateful for the opportunity.
The first Wellingtonians to be vaccinated on Monday were border staff working at the Grand Mercure Hotel.
Border and MIQ workers were being prioritised as they were the most at risk of coming into contact with the virus, Northland District Health Board medical officer of health Dr Catherine Jackson said.
The Ministry of Health has said while the Covid-19 vaccination was not compulsory, workplace health and safety issues could occur as a result of staff in a high-risk MIQ or border setting declining immunisation.
"These situations and the available options are currently being explored and will need to be discussed with your employer."
Te Ropu Poa, of Kaikohe-based Māori health provider Te Hau Ora o Ngāpuhi, had expressed concern about how the vaccine would be distributed given Northland's many rural areas.
She said the region's current pool of authorised vaccinators needed boosting as 12,000 Northlanders were initially set to be vaccinated.
The Northland District Health Board is strengthening the healthcare workforce, with an estimated 180 people at present authorised to administer vaccinations, Jackson said.
"Training is under way, delivered by IMAC, to increase the pool of Covid-19 vaccinators across the rohe in the DHB, in primary care, Māori and iwi providers and pharmacies."
The Ministry of Health said vaccinators could be sourced from non-practising nurses, doctors or pharmacists; final year medical, nursing and pharmacy students with clinical oversight; and other health professionals who have vaccinations within their scope of practice including dentists and physiotherapists.
Distribution of the vaccines is tightly managed using a nationwide cold chain network which is a temperature-controlled supply chain.
Nine large freezers that can be dialled down to -80C are the central storage facility for the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine that require ultra-low temperatures.
From there the vaccines will be transported in ultra-cold temperatures to allocated clinics in Northland.
But the exact details of the region's distribution are still being considered.
"Northland DHB is working closely with primary care and Māori Health Providers to understand the complexity of delivering a rural vaccination programme such as this to develop a robust strategy for when the time comes to offer the vaccine to our greater population," Jackson said.
Director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said New Zealanders needed to remember this pandemic was the most significant global public health challenge in a century and managing it would require all the country's efforts for some time to come.
"Even though vaccinations have begun, it's important everyone stays vigilant and sticks to the basics: staying home if unwell and getting advice about having a test, washing hands and coughing and sneezing into the elbow, and wearing masks or face coverings on all public transport."
Christchurch's vaccination programme begins on Wednesday followed by Waikato on Friday, Taupo and Rotorua districts on Saturday. The Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, Tairāwhiti, Hawke's Bay, Nelson Marlborough, South Canterbury, Southern and West districts will start vaccinations on March 1 - the same day as Northland.