(Reuters) – New Zealand started its official rollout of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine on Saturday, while Australia finalised plans to begin inoculations on Monday, a new phase in tackling the virus that both countries have kept largely contained.

A small group of medical professionals were injected on Friday in Auckland ahead of the wider rollout which was officially starting with border staff and so-called Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) workers on Saturday, officials said.

In Australia, hotel quarantine and healthcare workers will also be the first cohort to be inoculated at 16 Pfizer (NYSE:) vaccination hubs across the nation, alongside older Australians at aged care facilities.

“Today, we kick off the largest immunisation programme in our history, by vaccinating the first of our border workforce, a critical step in protecting everyone in Aotearoa,” New Zealand health minister Ashley Bloomfield told reporters in Auckland, using the country’s indigenous Maori name.

“We will be moving through these first few days and weeks in a measured way to make sure our systems and processes are solid.”

New Zealand expects its nationwide rollout covering the country’s population of 5 million will take a full year, while Australia aims to inoculate its 25 million citizens by October.

No new COVID-19 infections were reported in the communities of either country in the previous 24 hours despite tens of thousands of tests, officials said.

Both nations ended snap local lockdowns this week after a cluster emerged from a quarantine hotel in Melbourne and as New Zealand authorities investigate how a strain of a highly transmissible UK variant was found in three members of an Auckland family.

The two countries rank among the top 10 globally in a COVID-19 performance index for their successful handling of the pandemic.

Australia has recorded just under 29,000 cases and 909 deaths, while New Zealand has recorded just 26 deaths from 2,350 cases.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.





Source link