Tokelau has received its first batch of COVID-19 vaccines, with a 5000 nautical mile trip to transport Pfizer vaccines now complete.
HMNZS Wellington has successfully delivered the vaccine consignment to the Fakaofo, Nukunonu and Atafu atolls of Tokelau.
Transporting the vaccines on behalf of the Ministry of Health, HMNZS Wellington and her 76 crew utilised a Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boat and Seasprite helicopter to carry out contactless deliveries of the vaccine stock. Tokelau is the last of the Realm countries to start its vaccine roll out, beginning today.
The ship has cold chain storage onboard, keeping the vaccines at the required temperature for the transit, and Tokelau health officials have developed their own programme to roll out the vaccine across the three atolls, in order to protect their communities.
HMNZS Wellington Commanding Officer Lieutenant Commander Pip Davies said the weather had provided some challenges to the delivery.
“The weather hasn’t been entirely straightforward but with the flexible capabilities provided by both the helicopter and the ship’s boats, we have been able to deliver the vaccines to all three atolls safely. This 5000 nautical mile journey is no small undertaking and demonstrates New Zealand’s commitment to our neighbours in Tokelau.”
HMNZS Wellington will now transit to Palmerston Island in the Northern Cook Islands to deliver enough doses for the 40-strong eligible population there, before making a logistics stop in Rarotonga.
The ship is due back in New Zealand at the beginning of August.