The first large-scale COVID-19 vaccination event will be held at Vodafone Events Centre in Auckland from July 30 to August 1, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins has announced.
With more than 1.5 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine arriving during next month, Hipkins said on Wednesday the vaccination campaign will start ramping up.
"Our vaccine delivery for August has now been confirmed. Pfizer will deliver more than one-and-a-half-million doses into New Zealand during next month," Hipkins said during a press conference.
"That represents our biggest monthly delivery to date. It does align with our scale-up of the vaccine roll-out and it's fantastic news for the overall programme and of course, for New Zealanders who are awaiting their vaccines."
Hipkins said with those numbers "backing us up", the Government is in a position to offer vaccines in different settings and at different times to make it as easy as possible for New Zealanders to get.
"One of the options we have is mass vaccination events designed to get a large group of people vaccinated quickly and efficiently and of course safely, at a single time at a single venue," Hipkins said.
"Today I can confirm that the first mass vaccination event will be held at the Vodafone Events Centre in Manukau from Friday 30 July through to Sunday 1 August."
Hipkins said it's being coordinated by Auckland's three District Health Boards (DHBs) and supported by the Ministry of Health. The Government is aiming to provide vaccinations to over 15,000 people across those three days.
"It will be open to staff and students from MIT, the Manukau Institute of Technology and their whanau. So many students, staff and their whanau live in at-risk communities so that is why we chose that location for our first big event."
Hipkins said inviting people from the MIT community to get vaccinated at the first mass event does mean that some who are in Group 4 will be getting access to vaccinations slightly ahead of the roll-out for their age cohort.
"We're asking these people for their help in encouraging older and more at-risk members of their whanau to get their vaccine so that their community can be more protected from COVID-19," Hipkins said.
"At the time of booking, they will also be invited to book in their second dose at another mass vaccination event that will be held at the same location six weeks after the first."
Hipkins said there is sufficient vaccine stock to run this particular event without having to disrupt the wider roll-out plan or without reducing the allocation to DHBs.
He said mass vaccination events are just one way for people to get vaccinated, along with community sites, some GPs and pharmacies, pop-ups, and workplace vaccinations which will also be rolling out.
Similar large scale events have already successfully been held in other countries around the world including the UK, Australia and Canada.
MIT was chosen to participate because it is a major public institution in the area with more than 11,000 enrolled students and 1100 staff.
The institute is the largest educator of Pasifika people at tertiary level in the country and 14 percent of all students are Māori, two demographics with low uptake of the vaccine so far.
"Our institute is playing a key role in getting the community vaccinated," says MIT acting chief executive Prof Martin Carroll.
"We are privileged to have been chosen to give our learners, staff and their families this opportunity while creating momentum for vaccination and awareness of its benefits in South Auckland."
More than 1.4 million doses have been administered so far in New Zealand, 133,000 more than last week.