NZ's 'Super Saturday' vax drive a success
New Zealand's Super Saturday has proved a smash hit, with more than 2.5 per cent of Kiwis responding to the call to be vaccinated on a single day.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern set an ambitious goal of administering 100,000 shots on Saturday, aiming to push vax rates towards her goal of 90 per cent.
New Zealanders jumped on board, turning out in even better numbers.
As of 7pm NZDT, health workers had administered 127,342 doses of Pfizer on Saturday - jabbing at a higher per capita rate than any day of the rollouts in Australia, UK, US or Canada.
The normally unflappable director general of health, Ashley Bloomfield, couldn't hide his exultation as vaccine rates pushed past the 100,000 mark.
"Already there and more to come. Let's do this. Fantastic effort. Go whanau (family)," he said.
Ms Ardern broke the news at 3pm, live on air during a special telethon - dubbed the vaxathon - as part of the Super Saturday efforts.
"Go big or go home," she said, calling on Kiwis to push closer to 150,000 jabs.
"The team of five million have turned out in record numbers to protect whanau and loved ones," she added in a statement.
"Super Saturday has exceeded expectations and has ensured as a country we are more protected from COVID-19.
"Keeping up this momentum over the coming weeks means we could become among the most vaccinated countries in the world, ensuring we are protected from the virus and can get back to the things we love."
The vaxathon called upon a who's who of Kiwi talent.
Director Taika Waititi, singers Lorde and Marlon Williams, All Blacks and Silver Ferns all joined the eight-hour long broadcast.
Ms Ardern's fiance Clarke Gayford was on DJ duty, celebrating breaking the 100,000 barrier with a record scratch.
The vaxathon crossed live to events all across the country, including festivals for Tongan, Samoan, Maori and other diverse populations.
According to the Ministry of Health, around five per cent of the Tongan community in New Zealand were vaccinated on Super Saturday.
Air New Zealand opened one of their Boeing 787s to allow a lucky few to be vaccinated in business class, before eating in-flight snacks while waiting out their observation period.
Others were given free KFC, pizzas or vouchers for rolling up their sleeves.
The mighty effort leaves New Zealand with roughly 83 per cent vaccination coverage (of Kiwis aged 12 and over), a huge help it confronts a Delta outbreak forecast to worsen.
Health officials reported 41 community cases on Saturday, down from 55, 71 and 65 in the past three days.
All but one of the new cases are from Auckland, the centre of the Delta outbreak which notched up 60 consecutive days of lockdown on Saturday.
The other case is in the Waikato, and is a household contact of a previous case and already in quarantine.
The government predicted this week case numbers would reach about 140 per day by the end of the month.
Wastewater samples have revealed COVID-19 in Beachlands and Pukekohe in outer Auckland, Wellsford in Northland, and previously in the Waikato's Te Awamutu, suggesting the outbreak is not yet controlled.
There are 31 Kiwis in hospital with the virus, with six in intensive care.
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