Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to be used in Niue

A view off Niue Photo: AFP / Michael Runkel

The Niue government has announced the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine will be used to innoculate the population against Covid-19.

In a statement, the government says Pfizer is the only vaccine currently approved by Medsafe in New Zealand.

The government plans to vaccinate everyone over the age of 16.

New Zealand government gave Niue $NZD9 million last month to help its response to Covid-19.

Niue officials are working closely with New Zealand’s Ministry of Health to ensure all requirements are met for a successful vaccination programme, and they have been reassured any assistance needed will be forthcoming.

Niue’s frontline health care workers and border agency staff, along with their household members, will have the first opportunity to be vaccinated, followed by the island’s general population.

The Health Minister, Sauni Tongatule, said Niue remained free of Covid-19, and that the vaccine programme will provide added protection for the people of Niue.

“The roll-out of the Pfizer vaccine is the most significant protection we have to ensure the ongoing health and safety of Niue’s people, and it also strengthens our COVID-response,” said Tongatule.

Blood clot concerns over other vaccines put in perspective

Numerous Pacific Island countries using the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine have been urged by the World Health Organisation to continue with their rollouts.

That is despite several European countries and Australia limiting use of AstraZeneca because of safety concerns over the link to rare blood clots.

A similar link was cited in the decision by US medicines regulators to recommend a pause in use of the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen Covid-19 vaccine in the Northern Marianas.

But while New Zealand’s regulator prepares to say whether it is approving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, an Auckland vaccinologist said it was important to keep worries about blood clots in perspective.

Helen Petousis-Harris said cases of blood clots are very, very rare.

“Medicines tend to come with risks and we seem to be seeing that there might be a risk associated with this particular vaccine.

“There are other vaccines that we have that also carry some risk with them and we need to be clear about what that is and if we are to use it, to tell people about what that risk is.”

The risk for this vaccine at the moment appears to be that one in 1 million people have a blot clotting event, she said.

Resource: RNZ