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23 January 2021
Thursday 17 December 2020 | Written by RNZ | Published in Pacific Islands, Regional
Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas
Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said this country was preparing to help its Pacific partners access safe and effective vaccines at the earliest opportunity.
She said a safe and effective vaccine would be key to the region's economic and social recovery, after a hard fought against Covid-19.
Associate Foreign Minister, Aupito William Sio, said New Zealand's support had to be flexible, given the uncertainties around vaccine development.
New Zealand's approach is to purchase sufficient vaccines to cover the realm countries and its Polynesian neighbours, should their governments wish to take these up.
Aupito said "we will also be scaling up existing health investments to enable us to play our part in vaccine roll-out".
Part of the money will be additional support for the COVAX Facility Advance Market Commitment, which is the key multilateral mechanism aimed at equitable global access.
The ministers said New Zealand was also ready to contribute to wider Pacific regional initiatives as they take shape.
Earlier, prime minister Jacinda Ardern said the government had secured two more brands of vaccines - enough for every New Zealander and its realm partners.
Ardern said the new agreements mean the government will now have three different types of vaccine technology available to it in case some are found to be unsuccessful.
She said if the vaccines are proven to be safe and effective by Medsafe, then the government's first priority will be to vaccinate border workers, essential staff and their household contacts.
"We expect vaccines to be delivered to our front line workers in the second quarter of 2021," she said.
"Our aim is to then commence vaccination of the general public in the second half of the year. All vaccine roll out will be dependent on Medsafe sign off and speed of manufacture."