Plans for rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine
The government has purchased several bulk freezers for storing a coronavirus vaccine after news one could be ready next year.
Planning is well under way for the roll out of a vaccine with the US drug company Pfizer announcing this week that its version is looking very promising.
The vaccine has to be stored at ultra-cold temperatures of minus 70C, which requires specialised refrigeration.
The Ministry of Health says it has bought "a number" of the freezers and they were due in the country by the end of the year, and had also purchased equipment for handling the vaccine, like dry ice.
The Pfizer product is not a done deal but is the strongest contender so far.
If it gets Medsafe approval it could be rolled out as early as March.
Medsafe changed its approval process to make it more efficient, allowing vaccine manufacturers to submit their information as it comes to hand, in a rolling application process.
A ministry spokesperson says Pfizer indicated it could have its final portion of data ready for assessment around March and, if successful, a vaccination programme could start shortly after.
But that could change depending on the Pfizer trials and manufacturing times, the spokesperson says/
The government's COVID-19 Immunisation Programme Governance Group, which will oversee the purchase and delivery of any vaccine, met for the first time last week.
Any vaccine would need to meet quality and safety criteria before approval, the spokesperson says.