New Zealand will provide COVID-19 vaccines for the three Pacific countries in the Realm of New Zealand beginning with the Cook Islands on May 19. Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Associate Health and Foreign Affairs Minister Aupito William Sio made the announcement this week that New Zealand will provide protection against COVID-19 to more than 1.2 million people in the Pacific over the coming year. $120 million from the Official Development Assistance has been reprioritised to support Pacific economies in 2021.
Minister Mahuta says New Zealand is committed to providing ongoing support to the Pacific due to the increased challenges the COVID-19 pandemic is placing on the region.
Minister Sio says New Zealand is working with the Realm countries to ensure that everything is in place for the countries to receive and administer safe and effective vaccines at the earliest possible time, “this work begins with the Cook Island’s May rollout, the majority of which is expected to take 6-8 weeks to complete, with Niue and Tokelau to follow. ”
Samoa, Tonga, and Tuvalu have started their vaccine roll outs with doses received from the global COVAX facility, meanwhile Fiji has taken up the offer of AstraZeneca doses for 250,000 people donated by New Zealand, subject to Medsafe approval.
New Zealand is providing $4 million to help fund Papua New Guineas vaccine rollout, and medical equipment for a COVID-19 field hospital in Port Moresby as well as logistical air support to get health staff, PPE, and vaccines to remote areas of PNG.
Image Credit: NZ Ministry of Health COVID-19 Jet Park Vaccine Rollout