Ardern announces New Zealand’s largest immunization program ever

Jacinda Ardern is the Prime Minister of New Zealand

Photographer: Marty Melville / AFP / Getty Images

New Zealand aims to vaccinate its entire population against Covid-19 in the second half of next year in its largest immunization program to date, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. The nation’s currency has risen.

The government has provided two additional vaccines from pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca Plc and Novavax Inc. and it will be enough for all five million New Zealanders, Ardern said in Wellington on Thursday. If it is proven safe and effective, immunization with border workers and core staff will begin in the second quarter of 2021, followed by the population in the second half, he said. Vaccinations will be free to the public.

“This will be New Zealand’s largest immunization introduction to date,” Ardern said in a statement. “Most countries are shaping the fact of introduction to be both 2021 and 2022 complete, because of its size and complexity, as well as production and delivery deadlines.”

New Zealand has eliminated intra-Community transmission of the coronavirus, but the country’s border remains closed, causing a major blow to the important tourism industry and Economy. Vaccinations will be key to reopening the border, but the government today warned that the launch of an immunization program “initially did not mean any change at our borders”.

“Our border remains the first line of defense for imported cases against Covid-19,” said Chris Hipkins, Covid-19 response minister. “To make decisions around borders, we need to be sure that the people of New Zealand are adequately protected.”

The New Zealand dollar rose about a quarter of a dollar after Ardern’s announcement, taking 71.03 cents at Well.05 at 9.05.

Four vaccines