Government fast-tracks COVID-19 vaccinations for front-facing essential workers

The Government is fast-tracking vaccinations for front-facing essential workers such as supermarket staff.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Thursday that the vaccination rollout has recommenced after a brief pause on Wednesday to ensure they could be carried out safely under COVID-19 alert level 4.

"If you have a booking and you have had no other communication from your provider please still go - we're expecting you."

Primary care physicians are also vaccinating, and as some non-essential appointments were cancelled due to level 4 they have extra capacity.

This extra capacity is being used for front-facing essential workers who might not have been eligible because of their age.

Ardern says the Government is working with employers to organise vaccinations for staff, and employees should expect to hear more in the coming days.

The fast track will also be available for smaller businesses and self-employed people if they fit the criteria.

As well as pushing forward the dates, Ardern announced the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is now available for 12 to 15-year-olds.

Medsafe gave provisional approval of this in June and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Thursday that Cabinet has agreed to make it available for this age group.

The Pfizer vaccine is already approved for 12 to 15-year-olds in Canada, the United States, Europe, and Japan.

Currently, everyone aged 40 and over can get the vaccine. Bookings for people aged 30 and over open on August 25 and then for everyone else on September 1.

A total of 2,610,855 COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in New Zealand, as of 11:59pm on Wednesday. This number is made up of 1,656,315 first doses and 954,540 second doses.