New Zealand in push to get Covid-19 vaccination rate to 90%

Almost 125,000 shots administered on Saturday as country seeks to find way to live with disease

New Zealand has vaccinated at least 2.5 per cent of its population in one day as part of a government drive to speed up inoculation rates, preliminary health ministry data shows. Video: Reuters

 

New Zealand provided vaccines to around 2.5 per cent of its people on Saturday, preliminary health ministry data showed, as the government tries to accelerate inoculations and find a way to live with Covid-19.

Through an array of strategies, gimmicks and prime minister Jacinda Ardern’s encouragement through the day, 124,669 shots had been administered by late in the day in a country of 4.9 million people.

“We set a target for ourselves, Aotearoa, you’ve done it, but let’s keep going,” Ms Ardern said, using a Maori name for New Zealand at a vaccination site. “Let’s go for 150. Let’s go big or go home.”

New Zealand had stayed largely Covid-free for most of the pandemic until an outbreak of the Delta variant in mid-August. The government now aims to have the country live with the disease through higher inoculation rates.

Lockdown

Forty-one new cases were reported on Saturday, 40 of them in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city. It has been in lockdown since mid-August to stamp out the Delta outbreak. Officials plan to end the strict restrictions when full vaccination rates reach 90 per cent.

As of Friday, 62 per cent of New Zealand’s eligible population had been fully vaccinated and 83 per cent had received one shot.

Vaccination sites were set up on Saturday throughout the country, including at fast-food restaurants and parks, with some offering sweets afterwards.

“I cannot wait to come and play a concert, I want to be sweaty and dancing and maybe not even wearing masks. Hopefully we can get there,” said pop singer Lorde. “Protect your community, get yourself a little tart, perhaps a little cream bun,” she said. “But please, please get that jab.”

Final results of the mass vaccination drive are expected to be released on Sunday. – Reuters