As we near 100,000 Covid-19 vaccinations in NZ, here's how our rollout is going so far

STUFF
New Zealand nears 100,000 vaccine dose milestone.

New Zealand will likely administer its 100,000th dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine within the next few days.

As of Wednesday, more than 90,200 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine have been administered since the rollout first began in February.

Of those, more than 71,000 people have had their first dose, while a further 19,200 second doses have been given out.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said that “we're expected to hit the 100,000 doses administered milestone in the next couple of days”.

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Associate Minister for Health (Māori Health) Peeni Henare and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield gave a vaccine update on Wednesday. Bloomfield said the country was nearing the milestone of 100,000 doses given out.
ROBERT KITCHIN/Stuff
Associate Minister for Health (Māori Health) Peeni Henare and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield gave a vaccine update on Wednesday. Bloomfield said the country was nearing the milestone of 100,000 doses given out.

Vaccinators and frontline border and MIQ workers were the first groups to receive the vaccine in New Zealand.

Currently, the vaccine programme is focussing on the 57,000 health workers on community frontlines, which will then be followed by healthcare workers protecting the most vulnerable and some priority populations.

Some MPs who work in the health sector, such as Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins, and Associate Minister for Health (Māori health) Peeni Hēnare, have received their first Pfizer jabs.

Speaking on Wednesday, Bloomfield said that all district health boards around the country were now operating vaccination clinics. As a result, the number of people being vaccinated is “expected to increase substantially over coming weeks,” he said.

Associate Health Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall get her vaccination.
ROBERT KITCHIN/Stuff
Associate Health Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall get her vaccination.

With DHBs vaccinating, it's expected our weekly vaccination numbers will rise to about 35,000 people receiving their jab, he said.

So far, three people in New Zealand have had serious reactions to the Pfizer vaccine. Bloomfield explained that the three cases were considered allergic reactions, and were managed appropriately. One of them was classified as an anaphylactic reaction to the vaccine, and this occurred in someone who had a history of allergies, Bloomfield said.

None of them needed hospital-level care, or had ongoing problems.

There have been 147 adverse reactions reported as at March 6. An adverse reaction is any reaction – mild or serious – that is recorded.

There were no new safety concerns with the vaccine in New Zealand, Bloomfield said. He added that medicine regulator MedSafe's assessment was that the number and pattern of adverse events reported to date was in line with what it would expect, and what's been reported overseas.

On Wednesday, MedSafe published its initial report on the safety monitoring of the rollout of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

University of Otago associate professor James Ussher, from the department of microbiology and immunology, said the adverse events reported were consistent with those noted during the clinical trials, and post marketing surveillance of the Pfizer vaccine.

“To date, a staggering 689 million doses of vaccine (a substantial proportion of which is the Pfizer vaccine) have been administered globally, with ongoing monitoring of safety by regulatory agencies.

“Allergic reactions to Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine are rare but reported. Vaccinators are trained in the management of allergic reactions. As noted in the report, these reactions were appropriately managed in the clinic and did not require hospitalisation.”

Dr Fran Priddy, who is the clinical director of Vaccine Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand, said anaphylaxis after vaccination is very rare, but it is known to occur with any vaccine.

Priddy, who is also the clinical evaluation director of Malaghan Institute of Medical Research, said that while anaphylaxis is serious, it is treatable.

“Covid-19 vaccinations are being given in settings prepared to treat anaphylaxis if it occurs. The fact that New Zealand is reporting adverse event information is good news, as it means that the safety follow-up systems (are) working transparently and the vaccination campaign is really getting underway. Good news for New Zealand.”

The Ministry of Health has also made its vaccination data available on its website in a dashboard, which will be updated weekly.

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