Otago Daily Times

Pfizer vaccine for the South based in Chch

- MIKE HOULAHAN Health reporter mike.houlahan@odt.co.nz

THE Covid19 Pfizer vaccine will be stored in two 80degC freezers in Christchur­ch and distribute­d to the Southern region from there.

The vaccine can be stored at between 2degC and 8degC for up to five days, meaning it will reach all parts of the region in good order, officials said yesterday.

The Government yesterday gave formal approval for the PfizerBioN­Tech vaccine to be used in New Zealand — the first of a range of vaccines bought by the Government to be cleared for use.

Covid19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said he did not know when the vaccine would arrive in New Zealand, but it was likely to come in several shipments rather than all at once.

Despite that uncertaint­y, he believed the Government could achieve vaccinatio­n targets.

‘‘We don’t have a firm date for arrival [of the vaccine] but we have told DHBs to be ready.’’

Southern District Health Board medical officer of health Michael Butchard said planning was well advanced.

‘‘Led by Southern DHB, a Covid19 vaccinatio­n steering group has been formed to oversee the planning and delivery.

‘‘This group consists of membership from within Southern DHB and WellSouth as well as other key stakeholde­rs.’’

Border workers and frontline health workers would be among the first groups to receive the vaccine, and planning was under way for when that could start, Dr Butchard said.

The Pfizer vaccine requires extremely cold temperatur­es for storage, and the Government has bought several 80degC freezers for that purpose.

Mr Hipkins said yesterday two of those freezers would be based in Christchur­ch, and several sealed containers had also been bought to transport vaccines to the regions.

‘‘The Pfizer vaccine can be stored at normal cool chain temperatur­es (2degC to 8degC) for up to five days,’’ a health ministry spokesman said.

‘‘This will allow us to reach all planned distributi­on points across the country, including Southern DHB.’’

The ministry was planning to hire and train an extra 2000 to 3000 vaccinator­s who would available when needed, the spokesman said.

The ministry yesterday announced three new cases of Covid19 in New Zealand, all in managed isolation facilities.

Over the past seven days, a rolling daily average of 3750 Covid19 tests have been processed.

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