(Reuters) – New Zealand officials injected a small group of medical professionals with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Friday, in preparation for a wider rollout over the weekend.
The group chosen for the test run were vaccinators who will be administering the inoculation to border and quarantine staff from Saturday.
Health Director-General Ashley Bloomfield said the test run gave vaccinators the opportunity to handle the vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc and BioNTech, which requires ultra-low temperature storage.
“Our trial run at the Auckland quarantine facility today has confirmed our processes and systems are ready,” he said.
New Zealand officials have prioritised inoculating the country’s roughly 12,000 border and so-called Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) workers.
Bloomfield said a nationwide rollout, covering the country’s population of just under 5 million, will take a full year.
New Zealand has been one of the most successful countries in the world to curb the coronavirus pandemic, with fewer than 2,500 COVID-19 cases since March 2020 and 26 deaths.
(Reporting by Swati Pandey in Sydney; editing by Jane Wardell)