It was as if the cavalry had come galloping in: Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins enthused that the largest shipment of Pfizer vaccines yet has arrived two days ahead of schedule.
The shipment of 150,000 doses touched down late in Auckland at the weekend.
Hipkins acknowledged how close the country had come to running out of the vaccine. New Zealand had distributed nearly all of its supply of the Pfizer vaccine in storage, giving DHBs enough stock to last until Wednesday.
“The early arrival means no DHB will run out of vaccine. Teams have been working tirelessly to ensure vaccine doses have been getting to the right places to honour all existing appointments, and they’ve done a fantastic job.”
In another statement, this time as Minister of Education, Hipkins announced that yet another group of people was being exempt from the border rules that – we are led to believe – protect New Zealanders by carefully regulating who can come here and under what conditions.
The need for these rules being strictly applied becomes more acute when the vaccination programme is faltering.
In this case, 300 overseas qualified teachers will be able to come to New Zealand under a new class border exception.
While the border rules are being eased, of course, a bit more vaccine has arrived just in time to spare the government from serious political embarrassment.
Hipkins gave the credit for this to a joint effort by the Ministry of Health, Pfizer and logistics company DHL.
The vaccines were taken straight from the tarmac at Auckland Airport to the storage and distribution centre, where quality checks were carried out to ensure ultra-low temperatures were maintained during the flight and that none of the vials were damaged in transit.
“Staff worked late last night to pack and get the vaccine ready for shipment by road and air to District Health Boards and vaccination centres around the country today,” Chris Hipkins said.
“With our first July shipment safely on the ground and 1 million doses arriving this month, over the coming weeks we can start to ramp up the number of vaccines being administered.”
The Ministry of Health had been in constant contact with Pfizer, Hipkins insisted. The company helped secure an earlier release of the vaccines while DHL planned a route with the quickest transit times to get the vaccines to New Zealand quickly and safely.
“I commend and thank everyone involved – including the wider vaccinator workforce – for their ongoing efforts to ensure people continue to get vaccinated,” the grateful Minister declared.
But ACT leader David Seymour said Hipkins’ celebration of 150,000 doses of vaccine arriving
“… is like hooting and hollering for a drop goal while the team of five million is 50 points behind on the score board”.
Seymour scoffed at Hipkins’ release of a press release to express his delight at the delivery of the vaccine.
But readers of ACT’s statement must wade through a bit too much Seymourian scorn before getting to the nitty-gritty of the government ‘s challenge: it needs 150,000 doses a week for the rest of the year to get everyone vaccinated this year as promised.
“What would be more helpful is if Chris Hipkins explained how New Zealand got from the ‘front of the queue’ last November to the bottom of the OECD seven months later. Just what did happen in those negotiations with Pfizer?
“Was it a mistake to go all in on Pfizer, would we in fact be better with a diversity of suppliers, as the Government originally announced was the strategy last October? If yes, then why are we still waiting for Medsafe to approve vaccines such as AstraZeneca’s that the rest of the world is using?
“These are the questions New Zealanders deserve answers to instead of breathless commentary on mundane logistics.”
Latest from the Beehive
Covid-19 – vaccination
The largest shipment of Pfizer vaccines yet has arrived two days ahead of schedule, thanks to a joint effort by the Ministry of Health, Pfizer and logistics company DHL, says COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins.
The shipment of 150,000 doses touched down late yesterday afternoon.
Covid-19 – border controls
Three hundred overseas qualified teachers will be able to come to New Zealand under a new class border exception, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced today.
“While the overall outlook for domestic teacher supply remains positive, I know that ECE services and schools continue to find certain locations and subjects difficult to recruit for,” Chris Hipkins said.
“This will give principals and services additional support, especially for 2022 recruitment, and complement existing teacher supply initiatives.”
The Ministry of Education will work with the education sector to ensure that ECE services and schools with the greatest recruitment needs get priority. The Ministry will invite applications for these teachers from September.
“Teachers who were already employed in New Zealand, but who left the country and were unable to return to their job due to the border closure may also be eligible,” Chris Hipkins said.
“A separate family reunification border exception is being created for the partners and dependent children of teachers who are already in New Zealand on temporary visas.”
Teachers already in New Zealand will be able to request to bring in their partners and dependent children for the duration of their visa.
More information about the Teacher Border Exception criteria is available on the Ministry of Education website here: www.education.govt.nz/covid-19/border-exceptions-for-teachers
More Teacher Supply information is available here: Teacher supply | TeachNZ