New Zealanders will start getting the Covid-19 vaccine from next Saturday, February 20.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced this morning that the first shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is arriving in the country next week, ahead of schedule. 

Border workers are first up. 12,000 frontline workers will receive the vaccine at their place of work.

“Our first priority is our border workers, who we expect to vaccinate within two to three weeks followed by their household contacts,” said Ardern. “Health care and essential workers and those most at risk from Covid-19 will follow in quarter two, before vaccination of the wider population in the second half of the year.”

The Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine was approved for use by the Government last week after Medsafe assessed it as being safe and effective.

The vaccine must be stored in special freezers at -70 degrees centigrade. Each person requires two doses, given one month apart.

1.5 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination have been ordered in total, enough for 750,000 people.

New Zealand has signed purchase agreements with three other pharmaceutical companies developing Covid-19 vaccines: Janssen Pharmaceutica, University of Oxford-AstraZeneca and Novavax.

"It's going to take all the year to vaccinate everyone," Ardern said.

The vaccination is free of charge and not mandatory.