Coronavirus: Fries with that? Drive-thru vaccinations on the way in New Zealand - we look at pros and cons

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has confirmed plans are underway for drive-thru vaccinations, which comes with pros and cons - seen in cases already underway overseas. 

Britain became the first country to introduce drive-thru vaccinations in December last year, at Hyde Leisure Centre in Greater Manchester, where medics were praised for reportedly administering Pfizer jabs within minutes.

Around the same time trials were held in the United States. Minnesota's Carlton County was one of the first around the country to use a drive-thru strategy for vaccinating, and others have taken place from Tennessee to Illinois and Florida. 

Canada has been doing it since March, at the Wonderland theme park in Ontario. The park had been closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and was given a new purpose to fight the coronavirus. 

Australia's done it too. More than 400 people received a Pfizer jab on day one of Australia's first drive-thru vaccination centre earlier this month, located at a former Bunnings outlet in Melbourne. The aim is to build up drive-thru numbers to several thousand a week. 

New Zealand hosted its first mass vaccination event earlier this month at the Vodafone Events Centre in Manukau, where more than 15,500 people were given their first dose of the vaccine. But we're yet to host a drive-thru service, and from the examples overseas, there appears to be advantages and disadvantages. 


  • People don't have to get out of their cars and it reduces the risk of infection
  • People won't get cold waiting outside during winter
  • People might feel more relaxed waiting in a familiar environment 
  • Drive-thrus are a familiar concept and could attract more people


  • Traffic jams and having enough space for people to wait can be an issue
  • Health workers are less able to observe people post-vaccination
  • Visibility and access for vaccinators can be challenging
  • More training is required for vaccinators 

The Government in New Zealand has copped criticism for the pace of the vaccine roll-out, as we feature at the bottom of the OECD. But it's started to ramp up more as Pfizer delivers larger shipments. 

The latest Ministry of Health updates shows more than 2.5 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to date; of those, 1.58 million are first doses and 918,000 are second doses. 

But with news that a COVID-19 case had been detected in the community after almost six months of no community transmission, the Government's announcement that vaccinations would be put on pause for what could be 48 hours caused alarm. 

The Ministry of Health has since confirmed four additional cases, all linked to the original case - a Devonport man in his 50s. The other four cases are linked to the Devonport man - a co-worker who appears to have passed it on.  

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield. Photo credit: Getty Images

"The Government's announcement that it will hit pause on vaccinations for 48-hours is the most nonsensical decision it could make," said ACT leader David Seymour.

"We need to get the population vaccinated as fast as possible. Stopping vaccinations makes no sense. We should have been prepared for this."

National leader Judith Collins also described it as "unusual". 

Ardern, appearing on The AM Show on Wednesday, said she doubts it would take 48 hours, and also revealed the Ministry of Health is working up protocols to roll out drive-thru vaccinations to help ramp up the roll-out. 

"They've asked for just a bit of time to orientate and then they're keen to reopen. I believe it will be less than 48 hours. We're looking to give an update at 1pm today," she said of the vaccination roll-out pause. 

"Our Health team has also been working on protocols around, for instance, the opportunity for drive-thru vaccination. So we'll give an update on that at 1pm today, but I anticipate it will not take 24 hours to reopen."

Drive-thru vaccinations are under consideration in New Zealand.
Drive-thru vaccinations are under consideration in New Zealand. Photo credit: Getty Images

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation published guidelines earlier this month on drive-thru vaccinations and how they would be regulated - guidelines Kiwi health officials are no doubt observing. 

It says "careful and comprehensive planning is strongly recommended to establish a drive-through vaccination clinic", with planners expected to consider parking space, flow of traffic, and ensure all requirements for post-vaccination precautions and observations.

"Planning should account for ways to reduce needlestick injuries, such as having sharps bins on wheels available. Steps should also be taken to minimise staff's exposure to vehicle exhaust fumes," it adds. 

And while not required, Australian health authorities recommend that attendance at drive-thru clinics for COVID-19 vaccination be by appointment only, due to the potentially large demand. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will provide an update at 1pm.