Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she breathed a sigh of relief when told that 1 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be delivered to New Zealand during July.
She announced confirmation of the deliveries at her post-Cabinet press conference this afternoon, alongside Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins.
There was a danger that the rollout would have to be slowed down or even stopped if vaccine supplies didn't arrive in time.
"We now feel assured that won't occur," Ardern said.
"At least for our existing programme, I breathed a sigh of relief when I got a message from Minister Hipkins telling me what July was looking like.
"It will still take some planning, but we don't have quite the same anxiety we had previously that we were ramping up maybe too quickly for the deliveries."
The July shipments would nearly double the total number of doses delivered so far to 1.9 million - enough to vaccinate a quarter of all eligible New Zealanders (aged 16 and over).
"The doses will arrive in weekly drops, ramping up in quantity from mid-July as we start to move to the wider population rollout," Hipkins said.
"The drops will enable us to continue vaccinating Groups 1, 2 and 3, while giving us the certainty needed to start the general population rollout [from the end of July] as planned."
DHBs can start to ramp up the rollout through Group 3 from mid-July, he said, which included those over the age of 65, and people with disabilities and some underlying health conditions.
Hipkins said the Government was working with DHBs to make sure they could scale up in early July in line with vaccine shipments.
Pfizer had also said that shipments in August should be larger than in July, he said.
Current dose rates of 20,000 a day would increase to up to 50,000 a day by August, Ardern said.
Now there was a firm idea of the delivery schedule, Cabinet would make further decisions on the rollout on Monday, Ardern said.
This would include details of the online booking system.
Ardern, who today said she'd be vaccinated by the end of next week, said she had not made her Australia trip at the start of July contingent on having had both vaccinations.
Gaps at the border
Earlier today Hipkins said the biggest gaps in vaccinations among border workers - who are meant to be at the front of the queue - were at ports.
He was commenting on figures release to the Weekend Herald showing 3800 non-MIQ border workers are yet to have a single dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
It's unclear how many of them are subject to a public health order, which requires all MIQ workers and all Government employees at the border to be fully vaccinated in order to work on the front lines.
Port workers were lower risk than airport workers, Hipkins said, but he noted the port engineer who caught Covid-19 at the workplace last year.
"The length of time it takes for a ship to get here obviously reduces the risk, but it's not no risk."
Air NZ said at the weekend that 21 per cent of its frontline workers are yet to have a single vaccine dose, but Hipkins said many of them were involved in transtasman flights, which were lower risk.
"There's a lot of work going on just to follow through those last groups, but the ports certainly seem far too low. That's an area where there's definite need for more attention.
"We want to see higher rates."
The Government also wants an estimated 50,000 household contacts of border workers to be fully vaccinated to create a vaccinated safety barrier at the border.
But only half of them have had at least one vaccine jab.
National Party Covid-19 response spokesman Chris Bishop said the Government's rollout was a joke.
"The vaccinating of Group 1 border workers was meant to be completed by the end of March.
"Thousands of high risk people remain very vulnerable. It's just not good enough."
Figures released to the Weekend Herald also show about 1100 workers at the border who are not getting tested within the required timeframe.
Bloomfield also confirmed to the Weekend Herald a non-compliance rate of 4 per cent for MIQ workers getting tested regularly. This translates to about 180 MIQ workers.
The rate for non-MIQ border workers was 14 per cent - or about 930 workers.
The Health Ministry said about a third of them were less than four days overdue when they were tested, and because it took a few days to update the border worker testing register, some of them might well have been tested within the required timeframe.
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