New Zealand will make vaccines available to immunized international travelers on an as-needed basis from 2022, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Thursday.
“I understand that around 62,000 international travelers are immunized each year in New Zealand but, for those who are not, it can be time consuming and inconvenient to get immunized,” Ardern said.
“I’m pleased we can now help to bring some relief to those who are unable to be immunized on a normal basis.”
A ban on immunizations was originally implemented in 1991 as part of a cost-cutting measure but was later modified by the government in 2007 when the World Health Organization estimated the cost of not vaccinating international travelers.
“Since 2007 the Government has spent significant effort assessing and testing the safest, most effective and most convenient way to provide immunization services, to ensure it was affordable, accessible and met international standards,” Health Minister David Clark said.
New Zealand is a closed country where all imported travelers must have two vaccinations, including a must-not-travel list of common illnesses and seasonal influenza.
The first year immunization on as-needed basis will be available will be in Auckland in 2022.
In addition to the exemption for immunization, the government is considering allowing immunization for occasional uses, such as for children when they leave school for holidays.
The health system will cover any cost above the cost of the vaccine, including premiums.