Coronavirus: First batch of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines arrive in New Zealand

The first batch of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Auckland just at 9:30am on Monday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced.

The first 60,000 doses arrived in Auckland from Belgium on a Singapore Airlines. The location of where the vaccines are being kept in Auckland cannot be revealed for security reasons.

Ardern confirmed on Friday that the vaccines were set to arrive this week and that border workers would start receiving jabs from this Saturday.

"Our border workforce such as cleaners, the nurses who undertake health checks in MIQ, security staff, customs and border officials, airline staff and hotel workers have worked tirelessly to keep all New Zealanders safe and will rightly be first to receive the vaccine," Ardern said. 

"We know they're most at-risk of coming into contact with the virus and that’s why we're targeting them first, as it will also help prevent COVID-19 entering our communities."

The Government expects further shipments of vaccine over the coming weeks and will receive about 225,000 vaccine courses by the end of March.

The bulk of the vaccines will be kept in Auckland where approved freezers are available to store the vaccines, which must be stored at -70C and require two doses to be administered. 

The Government officially gave the Pfizer vaccine the green light last week, following approval given by New Zealand's medicine regulator Medsafe, clearing the way for 750,000 doses to arrive in New Zealand. 

The vaccines will be administered topeople 16 years and over. Patients receiving certain cancer drugs and antibody medicines should not receive it. Pregnant women should discuss the risks with their doctor, but it has been deemed safe for women who are lactating.

The Government has invested in a portfolio of four vaccines - 750,000 doses from Pfizer-BioNTech, 5 million from Janssen, 3.8 million from the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca and 5.36 million from Novavax.