Coronavirus: Who is eligible for the vaccine in New Zealand?

More details of New Zealand's COVID-19 vaccine rollout schedule were announced on Wednesday, where it was revealed around two million people in the most at-risk groups will get their first dose within four months.

The plan prioritises people most at risk of harm if they get the coronavirus and those who live and work in places where they are most likely to pick it up, such as hospices, residential care, and emergency services. Those in south Auckland who are over 65 or who have underlying health issues will also start being vaccinated from the end of March.

Vaccines will then be opened up to approximately 1.7 million people who are at higher risk if they catch COVID-19. This is planned to start in May. It will then be extended to the remainder of the public from July.

Coronavirus: Who is eligible for the vaccine in New Zealand?
Photo credit: Supplied

On Monday, it was announced the Government purchased an additional 8.5 million Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, bringing the total to 10 million - enough to vaccinate every New Zealander.

But who is eligible to receive the vaccine in New Zealand? The good news is that everyone in Aotearoa will be able to get a free vaccine, regardless of visa or citizenship status. The Ministry of Health says any information collected will not be used for immigration purposes.

The vaccine won't be mandatory for the general public, a point then-Minister of Health Chris Hipkins was forced to clarify last year. People can choose whether to get vaccinated.

What vaccines are available

The Government has agreements with four vaccine suppliers. These are Pfizer-BioNTech, Janssen Pharmaceutica, Novavax, and AstraZeneca. Currently, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the only one that's approved for use in New Zealand.

Given 10 million doses of this vaccine have been secured, the Ministry of Health says Pfizer-BioNTech is now the country's primary COVID-19 vaccine supplier. The purchase agreements with the other three companies are still in place.

The Ministry of Health says which vaccine New Zealanders get depends on availability and people can't choose which one they'd like.

Will tourists have to show proof they've received a COVID-19 vaccine once borders open?

COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says tourists may need to show proof they have received a COVID-19 vaccine when the borders reopen.

While no decisions have been made yet, it's likely travellers will have to show proof of vaccination before entering the country, but the same rules won't apply to New Zealand citizens.

"Ultimately we would still have to allow for citizens who hadn't been vaccinated to come back into the country, so we would still be looking to put them into managed isolation, so those decisions are a bit further down the track," he says.

"But it may well be that for others, for visitors, coming in it [proof of vaccination] does become a requirement. Now that decision has not yet been taken but there is a certain inevitability about it."