GPs and pharmacies will have easier access to the Pfizer vaccine after Medsafe has revealed it can be stored at refrigerated temperature for up to 31 days.
The New Zealand Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Authority received data from Pfizer to vary the storage conditions for their Covid-19 vaccine, which it assessed and approved for use, Medsafe said in a statement released today.
This change means the refrigerated (2C to 8C) shelf life of an unopened vaccine was extended from five days to 31 days.
Once at 2C to 8C, the vaccine cannot be returned to the freezer and must be disposed of after 31 days or on the vial's expiration date, whichever happens first.
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Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins said it was great news for the Covid-19 vaccination programme.
"It gives us more options for transporting the vaccine to some of our more remote communities.
"And as the rollout progresses, it'll also be easier for people to pop down to their local pharmacy or GP to receive their vaccination," Hipkins said.
The change would take effect immediately for any vaccine that DHBs or vaccination clinics had in stock, unless the vial's expiry date had passed.
Vaccine dispatched from next Wednesday, June 2, would include updated labelling to reflect the new storage conditions.
The vaccine still needed to be kept at ultra-low temperatures (-90°C to -60°C) in the longer term, for up to six months, Medsafe said.
• More information about the approved storage conditions for the Pfizer (Comirnaty) vaccine can be found in the New Zealand data sheet here.