A Northland grandfather made history as the region's first border worker to be vaccinated against Covid-19 on Monday.
Marine pilot George Walkinshaw was first in line ahead of around 87 border workers from Northport and Ōpua Wharf to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
Customs workers, marine pilots, data entry operators and other staff employed at Northport to screen and manage vessels arriving into Marsden Point made up the first cohort of border workers to receive the jab.
"I have grandchildren and they come to visit regularly," said Walkinshaw. "I'd be devastated if one of the kids contracted it because I didn't take all necessary precautions that I could to prevent this from happening."
Data entry operator Brooke Sneddon grabbed the chance to provide an extra level of security in her work at the border by accepting the vaccine.
"We've got the gloves and the masks but it's also good to know we are protected as much as we can be," Sneddon said. "Just takes a little bit of that worry out of coming to work every day."
North Tugz operations manager Avinash Murthy, who also chose to receive the vaccine, encouraged others to follow suit.
"As a part of the whole team of five million, it's just the right thing to do," he said. "Go ahead and get it done."
Preparation for yesterday's milestone saw 18 Northland District Health Board (NDHB) authorised vaccinators administer the vaccine for the first time as they received their own jabs a day earlier.
Chief Executive Dr Nick Chamberlain said the rollout of the immunisation programme was a landmark occasion for the region.
"Our staff are putting in a huge amount of work to provide those at the border in Northland with the best protection against Covid-19."
Around 300 border workers and 900 household contacts in Northland have been offered the first round of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
Chamberlain said the NDHB was confident the system created for the region's rollout was "robust and efficient".
"We are really proud of our team, this is obviously a new situation for everyone, but it is incredibly important that we complete this first phase as quickly as possible."
Northland DHB is strengthening the healthcare workforce authorised to undertake the vaccinatations, Northland medical officer of health Dr Catherine Jackson said.
Training delivered by the Immunisation Advisory Centre is set to bolster the pool of 180 authorised vaccinators across the DHB, in primary care, Māori and iwi providers and pharmacies throughout Northland.
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.
"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.
Northland Covid-19 community testing centres and Māori Health Provider testing centres have extended their hours this week.
Data recorded up to 2pm yesterday
showed 80 tests were taken across Northland.
Most testing stations in the region are open from 10am to 2pm with the exception of the Refining NZ testing station on Port Marsden Highway in Ruakākā that is for border workers only.
Strict Alert Level 2 precautions are in place. In clinic areas and waiting rooms patients should be 1m apart. If this is not possible people are advised to wear a mask.
Patients and visitors will be asked screening questions which include asking about recent travel to an area with active Covid-19 cases.
A NDHB spokeswoman encouraged everyone to continue to wash hands, scan QR codes, turn on bluetooth tracing on the NZ Covid Tracer App, and stay home if unwell and seek advice about a Covid-19 test.