The Government is adamant the Covid-19 vaccination plan is "on track" and says supplier Pfizer has scheduled delivery of an estimated 1 million doses of vaccine to New Zealand during July.
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said on Tuesday the expected "weekly drops" from Pfizer, ramping up from the middle of July, would enable continuation of the vaccination of 'groups 1,2 and 3' "while giving us the certainty needed to start the general population rollout [group 4] as planned".
The Ministry of Health recently on its website tweaked the timing of the start of general vaccination from during July to the "end of" July, prompting concern over slippage of the vaccination timeframe.
But Hipkins said the supplies arriving next month would mean the District Health Boards could keep delivering to their plans and start accelerating their way through Group 3 from mid July – which is everyone over the age of 65 and people with disabilities and some underlying health conditions.
"It’s a group of more than 1 million people and will take time to work through. As we start Group 4, we will significantly ramp up our vaccination efforts.”
Hipkins said the consignments due to arrive in July wold double the total number of Pfizer doses that have been received this year to more than 1,900,000 – "enough to fully vaccinate almost 1 million Kiwis".
He said around 20,000 doses a day were currently being administered and the Pfizer deliveries throughout July will enable this to increase significantly.
"At the peak of the programme in August and September we expect to be administering 50,000 doses per day."
To date over a quarter of a million people have been fully vaccinated.
Hipkins said the Government's "strategy" had meant "we’ve largely avoided having to stretch the time between first and second doses as many countries have".
“Work is well advanced to set up more vaccination sites, deliver mass vaccination events, and bring more GPs and pharmacies on-board to help with the rollout.
“While we know the ongoing pandemic can impact vaccine delivery schedules, Pfizer has given us further assurances that the remaining deliveries for 2021 are also on track, just as their deliveries to date have been.
“We have vaccinated more people than we had planned for at this point in time and more than 6,800 vaccinators have completed the necessary training to administer the Pfizer vaccine.
“We have at our disposal one of the best vaccines in the world and starting later next month we will start making it available, for free, to everyone in New Zealand over the age of 16.”