Northland's border workers will be the region's first to receive a Covid-19 vaccine in March.
This population, largely made up of Northport workers, will be administered the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine by early next month as the national rollout began today in Auckland.
Vaccinations of border workers and managed isolation facility staff would likely start in Wellington on Monday and Christchurch on Wednesday.
"We are looking forward to vaccinating border and MIQ workers in our community in coming weeks, and will provide an update on timing for the programme's rollout in Northland," Northland District Health Board medical officer of health Dr Catherine Jackson said.
"Border and MIQ workers are most at risk of coming into contact with the virus and that's why they're being offered vaccinations first."
Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine facts:
• It is free
• It is not mandatory
• All New Zealanders are eligible, regardless of visa or citizenship status
• Two doses are required to be fully vaccinated
• It needs to be kept at -70C
Household contacts of border workers will be the next vaccinated population before frontline healthcare officials, essential workers and immunocompromised people.
The Ministry of Health has confirmed there would be a particular focus on New Zealand's vulnerable Māori and Pasifika populations - music to the ears of Tai Tokerau's Māori health providers.
National studies show Māori were less trusting of the vaccine than Pākehā. Te Ropu Poa, of Kaikohe-based Māori health provider Te Hau Ora ō Ngāpuhi, said this conveyed the importance of vaccine communication and presentation.
"What we do know is that Māori want to see a Māori face and hear a Māori voice around messaging, that there's only one source of truth," she said.
Given Northland's many rural areas, Poa expressed serious concern for how the vaccine - which needed to be kept at -70C - would be distributed and by whom.
Poa said there were roughly 170 trained vaccinators in the region for the 12,000 Northlanders set to be vaccinated initially - a number which she felt needed significant addition.
She also believed marae were among the best places to base vaccinations sites for Māori.
In areas like Te Hapua near Cape Reinga, stories of Spanish Flu victims being collected from the road by wheelbarrow in the 1910s were still fresh in the minds of locals.
Errol Murray, general manager of Whakawhiti Ora Pai - New Zealand's northernmost health provider - said Muriwhenua (northern iwi) urupā (cemeteries) were grave reminders of how threatening virus' were to tangata whenua.
Murray anticipated vaccines would arrive in his rohe (area) in about six months' time. However, he said accurate communication was key to assuaging any concerns.
"We want to address those queries before they rise and I know that's part of the plan, before we start saying, 'The vaccine is going to be available in Northland from this day', we want to make sure there's a process and educate our communities on what the vaccine is.
"It's making sure that our young ones, right through to our kaumātua, are making informed decisions, educated decisions."
GP for Māori health provider Ki A Ora Ngātiwai Dr Kyle Eggleton said it was a given Māori and Pasifika communities needed to be prioritised for vaccines.
While he hadn't heard much anti-vaccine kōrero, Eggleton believed Northland would reflect national statistics where one quarter of the population were hesitant of the vaccine.
He said it was important for the Northland DHB to consider how mobile health clinic workers would be prioritised, given their direct link to many rural communities.
What you need to know about the vaccine rollout:
Vaccinations using the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine begin in Auckland today and will begin in Wellington on Monday and Christchurch on Wednesday.
First to be vaccinated in the coming weeks will be border workers, including cleaners, nurses who do MIQ health checks, security staff, customs officials, airline staff and hotel workers. General public vaccinations are expected to begin in the second half of the year.
The Ministry of Health is expecting enough vaccines for everyone in New Zealand.
Vaccines were also being bought for those in the Cook Islands, Niue, Tokelau, Sāmoa, Tonga and Tuvalu.
The vaccine has been approved to use for people 16 years and older.
Everyone in New Zealand is eligible for free Covid-19 vaccination, regardless of their visa or citizenship status.