NZ to donate surplus Covid jabs to help Pacific neighbours vaccinate teens

Source: 1News

New Zealand is pledging to donate its surplus Covid-19 Pfizer vaccines to help the Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau vaccinate its 12- to 15-year-olds from October. 

There are up to 4,000 Kiwi tourists there at the moment and while they are free to come home, not everyone's rushing to get back.

Associate Health Minister Aupito William Sio said the donation would make a "tangible contribution" to these countries' resilience against the virus. 

"Many of these countries have large youthful populations,” Sio said.

“We are sharing vaccines with our partners in the Pacific to help protect the region’s precious tamariki and tamaiti against Covid-19."

Sio said New Zealand purchased additional Pfizer vaccines to help maintain the pace of its rollout, and has now purchased more than 10.8 million doses. 

Deliveries from Pfizer over the next few months will give New Zealand enough doses to vaccinate everyone who is eligible by the end of the year, he said.

Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced the country would also be donating 708,000 doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine to the COVAX Facility to help support developing nations’ rollout programmes. 

Of the doses donated to COVAX, 25,000 has been allocated to Samoa. Indonesia will receive the remaining 683,000 doses. 

The doses will be delivered to these countries in October. 

Mahuta said these doses are in addition to New Zealand’s existing donation of 1.668 million AstraZeneca doses to COVAX, which was announced earlier in the year.

“These vaccines are part of our ongoing commitment to supporting the global effort to combat Covid-19.”

Mahuta said New Zealand was also “working closely with the governments of Tonga, Samoa and Fiji to donate vaccines for their younger population”. 

“These discussions are well underway,” she added.