Coronavirus: First New Zealander gets vaccinated against COVID-19

The first Kiwis have received their COVID-19 vaccinations less than a year after the pandemic began.

On Friday a small group of vaccinators were the first to receive the vaccine ahead of the wider roll-out to border workers on Saturday.

It came as New Zealand recorded one new case of COVID-19 in the community - a household contact of the most recent family to have tested positive. 

It has highlighted just how significant the vaccination roll-out is - but is the country ready for it? 

When it comes to global pandemics there are not many big celebratory moments.

But this roll-out of vaccines is a triumph. 

Jo Coffey from the New Zealand Nurses Organisation says it's been a long time coming. 

"The team of five million have been feeling that as well."

The vaccine.
The vaccine. Photo credit: Ministry of Health

The first Pfizer shots have been given to New Zealanders who will vaccinate the rest.   

Going first has given these vaccinators a chance to practice on each other before the country's 12,000 border workers start rolling through on Saturday. 

And then, the rest of the country follows suit.  

Vaccinologist Helen Petousis-Harris says it's "amazing" but it's no silver bullet. 

"We've still got to keep up the same things, this is another tool that gives us an extra layer of shielding."

The first vaccinated Kiwi.
The first vaccinated Kiwi. Photo credit: Ministry of Health

There's a lot of vaccinations left to do and experts are hoping hesitant Kiwis take comfort in Pfizer's safety record so far overseas.

Dr Nikki Turner says she's "very confident" about the vaccine. 

"I'm feeling very good, very confident about this vaccine, both from the clinical trials, but also now from extensive use from around the world, that has been very closely monitored."

The vaccines.
The vaccines. Photo credit: Ministry of Health

We do know that there can be side effects. Some people will have none but others could experience those flu-like symptoms, a headache, and muscle aches -  perhaps a sore arm and redness around the vaccination site, for a day or two. 

"That's really reflecting that the vaccine is working, so you know you're getting a good immune response and highly likely to have a strong degree of protection."

Almost a year on from our first case - our first vaccination. 

Injections aren't always fun, but this one is already proving to be much easier to grin and bear.  

A close up of the vaccine
A close up of the vaccine Photo credit: Ministry of Health