News that the first Covid-19 vaccines will be administered ahead of schedule, starting in a week's time, has resulted in a rare bit of political unity.
Both National and Act have said that the earlier than expected vaccine timetable was good news - the development has also been welcomed by businesses and unions alike.
The news comes as a new survey from Research New Zealand reveals that an overwhelming majority of New Zealanders are willing to get the Covid-19 vaccine.
Until yesterday morning, New Zealanders were in the dark as to when exactly the Pfizer vaccines would arrive in the country.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had previously only said the first batch would be here in the first quarter.
But yesterday, flanked by a number of her top ministers, Ardern announced that frontline border workers would start getting the jab from next Saturday – February 20.
"The vaccine is important for protecting our health, our economy [and] our current freedoms," she said before adding the announcement was a "milestone" for New Zealand.
Border and MIQ workers, as previously flagged, are at the front of the queue – Ardern said it would take two or three weeks to vaccinate all roughly 12,000 of them.
They will be vaccinated at their place of work, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said.
Ardern said that she was not particularly worried about any healthcare workers refusing the vaccination, as she didn't think many – if any – workers would turn it down.
But if someone did, Ardern said they would not be fired. Rather, they would likely be transferred away from the frontlines.
Next in line for the vaccine are the close family members of those frontline workers, then health care and essential workers before those most at risk from Covid-19 get the jab in the second quarter of the year.
Finally, a nationwide vaccination programme for all New Zealanders will begin in the second half of the year, as previously announced.
Ardern said she expected the vaccine rollout in its entirety to be completed by the end of the year.
The first batch of vaccines to arrive will be in the "low tens of thousands," according to Hipkins.
Ardern was particularly pleased that the vaccination programme was beginning ahead of schedule.
"Last year we indicated the vaccine would arrive in quarter two, and earlier this year we updated that to quarter one. It's pleasing to be receiving doses this early in quarter one," she said.
According to Research NZ figures, 70 per cent of New Zealanders say they are willing to be vaccinated. Some 20 per cent said they don't know and only 10 per cent of people said they would not get the jab.
Of those who said they would not be keen, the top reason was that they were concerned about the potential long-term effects of the vaccine.
Meanwhile, National's Covid-19 Response spokesman Chris Bishop said it was "really good news" that frontline workers will be vaccinated ahead of schedule.
But the focus now would be on ensuring the rollout is as effective as possible – "that's what National will be keeping an eye on".
The Act Party was also quick to applaud the Government for running ahead of schedule with the vaccines.
"The Government should be congratulated for getting some Pfizer vaccine for Covid-19 confirmed for rollout from next week," Act leader David Seymour said.
But he was careful not to be too complimentary of his political rivals.
"It was frankly embarrassing that 75 countries have already administered 152 million doses of vaccine."
BusinessNZ chief executive Kirk Hope said prioritising frontline workers was an appropriate strategy.
But he warned that New Zealand's largest-ever vaccine campaign would require significant planning and operational ability to achieve within the targeted period of one year.
CTU President Richard Wagstaff echoed Hope's praise.
"These are the members of our team of 5 million who are daily working in environments where they could be exposed to Covid-19," he said of the frontline workers.
There were just two cases of Covid-19 detected in managed isolation yesterday – both had arrived to New Zealand from the UK.
The Ministry of Health also reported that 12 previously reported cases have now recovered; meaning the total number of active cases in New Zealand is 44.
Who will be first to get the vaccine?
First up are frontline health, MIQ and border workers. These are the people working in the managed isolation and quarantine facilities, as well as the people working at the airports. After they have got the jab, their close family will get the vaccine as well.
What happens if they refuse the vaccine?
The Government cannot make the frontline workers take the vaccine, but it's strongly encouraged. Ardern said if a frontline worker refuses the jab they won't be fired – rather, they would likely be moved off the front line.
What about the rest of New Zealand?
There is no specific date as to when the wider population will get the vaccination, but the Government has said the nationwide rollout will begin in the second half of the year. Jacinda Ardern confirmed yesterday that this rollout would most likely be done by the end of the year.
What has been the reaction?
A lot of thumbs up so far. Both National and Act have said they were pleased the vaccines were arriving ahead of schedule. That's a sentiment shared by BusinessNZ and the CTU. But all eyes will be on the wider rollout later in the year.