AUCKLAND, New Zealand – Since New Zealand closed its borders in March 2020, setting the stage for one of the world’s most successful Covid-19 responses, the wide-body aircraft that once carried its citizens in all corners of the world they have been redistributed mostly for the transport of goods. And the vast majority of kiwis have been, throughout the pandemic, as flying as their birds of the same name.
But on Saturday, some 300 residents of Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, boarded an Air New Zealand Boeing 787 once again at the city’s international airport. This time it wasn’t about taking a trip, but getting a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at the stand of a business-class seat. Doses were kept fresh with dry ice in carts that usually offer a choice of chicken or veal.
“It’s unique,” Johan Rickus, 30, said as he offered his left arm for his second dose. After receiving the vaccine from a health worker, a uniformed member of the cabin crew made him return to economy class to wait 15 minutes after the vaccination period in a slightly less cozy seat.
The event was one of dozens of pop-up windows held across the country for “Super Saturday,” a one-day vaccination effort organized by the New Zealand Ministry of Health. The goal was to break the country’s record for most doses administered in 24 hours, previously 93,000. Some 350,000 vaccination slots were available, which could reach 8.3% of New Zealand’s eligible population. By eight o’clock in the evening, the country had already given about 130,000 doses, though hours were left to finish.
For most of the pandemic, New Zealand has successfully followed a “zero covid” strategy, with no community-acquired coronavirus transmission and few restrictions. But an outbreak of the Delta variant that began in August has proved difficult to eliminate, prompting a move to contain the virus, rather than eliminate it. Auckland has been closed for more than eight weeks, while the rest of the country has faced mask and physical distancing requirements for the first time in months.
On Saturday, 83% of the population 12 years of age or older had received a first dose of vaccine and 62% were fully vaccinated. Unlike its neighbor Australia, New Zealand has not set official vaccination targets for its reopening. Instead, the country is trying to get as close as possible to full vaccination.
“New Zealand has been a world leader in reducing the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths, as well as offering a strong economy and low unemployment,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at a news conference on Tuesday. “I think we can also be world leaders in vaccines.”
Tens of thousands of people were lured to vaccination sites across New Zealand for promises of hot chicken, live music and random prizes. On the country’s television channels, a flotilla of local celebrities appeared on live “vaxathon” programming, including filmmaker Taika Waititi, who called from Los Angeles.
“Get the vax: I’d like to go home, mostly selfish,” Waititi told his New Zealand teammates. “If we can vaccinate so many people, we can relax in the border scenarios and maybe at some point we can have a little more flow in and out of the country.”
In some communities, Super Saturday was an opportunity to connect with people who might find it harder to reach. The University of Auckland and Mongrel Mob, a street gang organized with close ties to the Maori community, organized a vaccination event entitled “Protecting You and Whanau from Covid-19,” with the Maori word for the family. .
Although they face additional risks from coronavirus, the Maori indigenous population of New Zealand has about 30% fewer vaccines than the general population, according to data from the Ministry of Health.
Since April, Manurewa Marae, a Maori meeting house and community center in southern Auckland, has been working to deliver more than 41,000 doses of a vaccine to some of the country’s most vulnerable people, many of whom are Maori.
What you need to know about Covid-19 Booster Shots
The FDA authorized booster shots for a select group of people who received the second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at least six months earlier. This group includes: vaccine recipients 65 years of age or older or living in long-term care settings; adults at high risk for severe Covid-19 due to an underlying medical condition; health workers and other employed people who put them at risk. People with weakened immune systems are eligible for a third dose of Pfizer or Moderna four weeks after the second shot.
The CDC has said conditions that qualify a person for a booster shot include: hypertension and heart disease; diabetes or obesity; cancer or blood disorders; weakened immune system; chronic lung, kidney, or liver disease; dementia and certain disabilities. Pregnant women and current and former smokers are also eligible.
The FDA authorized reinforcements for workers whose jobs present a high risk of exposure to potentially infectious people. The CDC says this group includes: emergency medical workers; education workers; food and agriculture workers; manufacturing workers; correction workers; U.S. Postal Service workers; public transport workers; grocery store workers.
Not recommended. For now, Pfizer vaccine recipients are advised to get a Pfizer booster injection, and Moderna and Johnson & Johnson recipients should wait until booster doses from these manufacturers are approved.
Yes. The CDC states that the Covid vaccine can be given regardless of the timing of other vaccines, and that many pharmacy sites allow people to schedule a flu shot at the same time as a booster dose.
The spikes are administered in the meeting house or wharenui, against carved walls of red, black, and ocher, decorated with images of loved ones. “You also get this spiritual side of the marae,” said Hilda Peters, marae site manager. “You feel it when you go there, with all our ancestors on the wall. It’s a beautiful experience. “
On Super Saturday, Marae’s management hoped to vaccinate 500 people, with incentives such as a month of free electricity, a barbecue of “sausage” and packed food boxes to take home. After receiving the blows, people posed to take photos under a balloon arcade and a sign that said “Shot!”, An expression of congratulations to New Zealand.
“It’s about trusting voices and building trusting relationships,” said Takutai Moana Kemp, CEO of Manurewa Marae. “If you get to the marae, you will have people who look like you, who have the same kind of values and beliefs, who have an understanding of what our people and our community are like,” he added.