Northland's border workers, most of them employed at Northport, will be first in the region to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, early next month.
The national rollout of the vaccination began in Auckland, to be followed by border workers and managed isolation facility staff in Wellington yesterday and Christchurch tomorrow.
"We are looking forward to vaccinating border and MIQ workers in our community in the coming weeks, and will provide an update on timing for the programme's rollout in Northland," Northland DHB 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."
Household contacts of border workers would be the next priority, followed by frontline healthcare officials, essential workers and those who were immuno-compromised.
The Ministry of Health has confirmed a particular focus on vulnerable Māori and Pasifika populations, which Tai Tokerau's Māori health providers have welcomed.
National studies showed Māori were less trusting of the vaccine than Pākehā, Te Ropu Poa, from Kaikohe-based Māori health provider Te Hau Ora ō Ngāpuhi, saying that emphasised 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.
She was concerned, however, about how the vaccine, which needed to be kept at -70C, would be distributed throughout a largely rural region, and by whom. There were roughly 170 trained vaccinators in the region, where 12,000 were to be vaccinated initially, which she did not believe would be enough.
She also believed marae were among the best places to base vaccinations sites for Māori. In communities like Te Hapua, stories of Spanish flu victims being collected from the road by wheelbarrow were still fresh in the minds of locals.
Errol Murray, general manager of Whakawhiti Ora Pai, New Zealand's northernmost health provider, said Muriwhenua urupā were grim reminders of the threat of viruses.
He anticipated that vaccines would arrive in his rohe in about six months' time, but accurate communication was key to easing any concerns.
"We want to address those queries before they rise, and I know that's part of the plan," he said.
"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 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 that Māori and Pasifika communities needed to be prioritised for vaccines.
While he hadn't heard much anti-vaccine kōrero, he believed Northland would reflect national statistics, where a quarter of the population were hesitant of the vaccine. It was also important that the DHB consider how mobile health clinic workers would be prioritised, given their direct link to many rural communities.