Coronavirus: Health professionals welcome Medsafe's approved Pfizer vaccine temperature change

New Zealand health professionals are welcoming the "excellent news" that Medsafe has approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to be stored at a warmer temperature.

One of the challenges that came with the vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc and Germany's BioNTech was that it had to be shipped and stored at -70C.

Special vaccine freezers had to be imported into New Zealand on Christmas Eve 2020 to store the vaccines.

But now it's been announced Medsafe has approved the vaccine to be stored at -20C.

CEO of Primary Health Organisation (PHO) ProCare Bindi Norwell said they are "absolutely" welcoming the news.

"This is great news as it will mean it allows GPs to administer it logistically and operationally much easier. It's really at the same temperature as other vaccines at -20C, it's much better than the -70C that was originally proposed."

Other vaccines including the AstraZeneca shot can currently be stored at higher temperatures and can be kept in a standard refrigerator for around six months.

Norwell said it will make the Government's logistics of the vaccine much easier, and better managed.

"They can actually leverage their current operations at the moment to how they store other vaccines, for example flu vaccines. It will make it so much easier because we don't have to put in additional apparatus in, we can just make use of what we have already got which is excellent news."

The Government has recently been under fire for New Zealand's vaccine rollout, which comes after three workers at Auckland's Grand Millennium managed isolation facility tested positive for the virus.

University of Auckland medical professor Des Gorman recently told The AM Show "a shambles" was too generous of a description for the flawed and slow-moving system.

Norwell said Medsafe's change could help to speed up the system because the vaccines can now be stored in normal refrigerators, and could be administered by GPs around the country.

She said it would be a great way to leverage their expertise and contacts.

"GPs want to help with the rollout of the vaccine. They've got the great contacts and duty of care with rolling it out and now it's even better news that we can use the current facilities to roll it out even faster."