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 jets that once carried its citizens to every corner of the world Most have been redeployed. for freight. And the vast majority of kiwis, like their eponymous birds, have remained flightless during the pandemic.
But on Saturday, about 300 residents of New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland, once again boarded an Air New Zealand Boeing 787 jet at the city’s international airport. This time, it was not to travel, but to receive a dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine in the booth of a business-class seat. The meals were kept cold with dry ice on trolleys that usually offer a choice of chicken or beef.
“It’s one of a kind,” said 30-year-old Johan Rikus, as he extended his left arm for his second dose. After receiving the vaccine from a health care worker, she was escorted back to economy class by a uniformed member of the cabin crew to wait for her 15-minute period after vaccination in a slightly less padded seat.
The event was one of dozens of pop-ups organized across the country for “Super Saturday”, a one-day vaccination effort organized by New Zealand’s Ministry of Health. The goal was to break the country’s record for the most doses given in 24 hours – the first 93,000. There were approximately 350,000 vaccination slots available, which could reach approximately 8.3 percent of New Zealand’s eligible population. By 4:30 p.m., the country had already given about 120,000 doses, with only a few hours left.
For most of the pandemic, New Zealand has successfully adopted a “zero-Covid” strategy, with no community transmission of the coronavirus and few restrictions. But the delta variant outbreak that began in August has proved difficult, prompting a move to contain, rather than eliminate, the virus. Auckland has been in lockdown for more than eight weeks, while the rest of the country has faced mask and physical distancing requirements for the first time in months.
Entering Saturday, 83 percent of the population age 12 and older had received their first dose of vaccine, and 62 percent were fully vaccinated. Unlike its neighbor Australia, New Zealand has not set an official vaccination target for its reopening. Instead, the country is striving to get as close to full vaccination as possible.
“New Zealand has been a world leader in our case numbers, hospitalizations and deaths, as well as delivering a strong economy and low unemployment,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told a news conference on Tuesday. “I believe we can be world-leaders on vaccines as well.”
Thousands were drawn to vaccination sites across New Zealand by the promise of hot rotisserie chicken, live music and random prizes. On the country’s television channels, a group of local celebrities appeared on live “vaxathon” programming, including filmmaker Taika Waititi, who was summoned from Los Angeles.
“Get the wax – I want to come home mainly out of selfishness,” Mr Waititi told his fellow New Zealanders. “If we can get as many people vaccinated, we can relax on the border scenarios, and maybe at some stage we have a little bit more of a flow in and out of the country.”
In some communities, Super Saturday was an opportunity to connect with people who may be difficult to reach. A pro-vaccination event called “Protect You and Your Wannau from Covid-19” using the Māori word for family, co-hosted by Mongrel Mob, an organized street gang with close ties to the University of Auckland and the Māori community had gone. .
Although they face additional risk from the coronavirus, New Zealand’s indigenous Māori population is about 30 percent less likely to be vaccinated than the general population, according to health ministry data.
Since April, Manurewa Mara, a Māori meeting house and community center in South Auckland, has worked to deliver more than 41,000 doses of the vaccine to some of the country’s most vulnerable, many of whom are Māori.
What to know about Covid-19 booster shots
The FDA authorized booster shots for a select group of people who received a second dose of the Pfizer-BioEntech vaccine at least six months ago. That group includes: those receiving the vaccine who are 65 years of age or older or who live in long-term care facilities; Adults who are at high risk of severe Covid-19 because of an underlying medical condition; Health care workers and others whose jobs put them at risk. People with a weakened immune system are eligible for a third dose of Pfizer or Moderna four weeks after the second shot.
The CDC states that conditions that qualify a person for a booster shot include: high blood pressure and heart disease; diabetes or obesity; cancer or blood disorder; weakened immune system; chronic lung, kidney or liver disease; Dementia and some disabilities. Pregnant women and current and former smokers are also eligible.
The FDA authorized boosters for workers whose jobs put them at high risk of coming into contact with potentially infectious people. The CDC says the group includes: emergency medical workers; education worker; food and agricultural workers; construction workers; improvement worker; US Postal Service employees; public transport workers; Grocery store workers.
It is not recommended. For now, Pfizer vaccine recipients are advised to get the Pfizer booster shot, and Moderna and Johnson & Johnson recipients should wait until a booster dose is approved from those manufacturers.
Yes. The CDC says the Covid vaccine can be administered regardless of the timing of other vaccines, and many pharmacy sites are allowing people to schedule the flu shot at the same time as a booster dose.
The jabs are administered against the intricately carved walls of red, black and ocher in the wharenui or meeting house, which is decorated with portraits of loved ones. “You get that spiritual side from Mare as well,” said Hilda Peters, the site manager for Mara. “When you climb the wall with all our ancestors, you feel it. It’s a beautiful experience.”
On Super Saturday, the Marai leadership hopes to vaccinate 500 people, with incentives such as a month of free electricity, a “sausage sizzle” barbecue and packaged boxes of food to take home. After receiving their jabs, people posed under an arch of balloons and a sign that read “Shot!”, an expression of New Zealand’s congratulations.
Takutai Moana Kemp, chief executive officer of Manurewa Mara, said, “It’s all about making trusting voices and building trusting relationships as people around posed for photos after getting their jabs.” So, you’ll have people who look like you, have similar values and beliefs, have an understanding of our people and our community,” she said.