Covid-19 coronavirus: First vaccinations given – one new community case

As health bosses reveal one extra Covid-19 community case linked to the Valentine’s Day outbreak, New Zealand’s first vaccines have officially been administered.

“It marks the beginning of the end of the pandemic in New Zealand as we have come to know it,” Helen Petousis-Harris, vaccinologist and associate professor at University of Auckland said.

A group of 25 vaccinators have given and received their first Covid-19 vaccinations this afternoon as part of final preparations before tomorrow’s rollout of New Zealand’s largest ever immunisation programme.

“Our trial run at the Auckland quarantine facility today has confirmed our processes and systems are ready ahead of our first official day vaccinating border and MIQ workers tomorrow,” director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said.

He said it was the first time the vaccine had been used in New Zealand and it wasappropriate to protect the vaccinators who would play an important role in the coming weeks and months.

“These vaccinators will start administering vaccines to frontline border and MIQ workers from tomorrow,” Bloomfield said.

“We’re confident we’re ready for tomorrow’s rollout, which is a significant milestone in New Zealand’s fight against Covid-19.”

Over the next few months 12,000 border workers and their families will receive the vaccine.

It’s the largest vaccination campaign in Aotearoa’s history.

Petousis-Harris said while it was super exciting it was not the time to let down our guard.

“Vaccination is an additional tool at the moment, on top of masks, distancing etc. Only when we have achieved the vaccination of a high proportion of our team of five million and the threat of Covid has vastly diminished can we let down our guard.”

Peter McIntyre, medical advisor at the Immunisation Advisory Centre (IAC), said it was unlikely that the world would be able to get rid of Covid.

“But if Covidreally becomes just the flu’, which will only happen with high vaccination rates, we could end up in a better place than we came from, but only if the ‘team of five million’ pulls together.”

Today, a Ministry of Health spokesperson said a new community case had tested positive for Covid-19.

The person is in the same household as the second family infected through a chain of transmission at Papatoetoe High School.

The latest case previously returned a negative test on Monday, and had been isolating at home. They are now being moved to the Auckland quarantine facility.

There is one more member of the second household who hasn’t tested positive but who is also being moved to the Jet Park Hotel to be with their family.

There are three cases in MIQ facilities today. One is classified as historical so is not infectious.

Of the 128 close contacts of all the cases in this cluster, 112 have tested negative and 16 test results are outstanding.

Seven of these are linked to the medical clinic in Case C and these people are considered low risk while nine of the outstanding tests relate to the workplace of someone in the second household. All are in isolation.

As at 8am today, 31 close contacts and 1476 casual-plus contacts had been identified at Papatoetoe High School.

The Ministry of Health said the number of casual-plus contacts had decreased as these people were not at school at the time of exposure.

“We do remind all students and staff at the school to please stay home and have a test if they haven’t already. School is expected to return on Monday February 22.

“Close contacts at the school will not return until they have been advised by public health that they can.”

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