New Zealand PM Ardern to take first dose of COVID-19 vaccine next week

WELLINGTON, June 8 (Reuters) - New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Tuesday that she would get her first COVID-19 shot at the end of next week, as the country prepared to receive another 1 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

“For me, it’s been important that I allow those in the most at risk group... to be prioritised,” Ardern said in a news conference.

“I’m choosing to be vaccinated at this point in order to play my role in demonstrating that I consider it to be absolutely safe and also really critical to keep others safe,” she said.

Pfizer has scheduled delivery of an estimated 1 million doses of vaccine to New Zealand in July, Ardern said.

The Pacific island nation, which has been among the most successful in the world in containing the spread of COVID-19, has so far fully vaccinated about 250,000 of its 5 million population.

About 20,000 doses a day are being administered, and the Pfizer deliveries will enable that pace to increase significantly, Ardern said. At the peak of the programme in August and September, 50,000 doses will be administered each day, she said. New Zealand has had 2,336 confirmed cases and 26 deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic so far. (Reporting by Praveen Menon. Editing by Gerry Doyle)