The first COVID-19 vaccinations were given in Waikato today, starting with the vaccinators themselves.
At a dedicated COVID-19 vaccination centre in Hamilton this afternoon, 28 people received the first of their two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
From Friday, the vaccinators will begin the process of immunising the workforce on-site at the region's managed isolation facilities.
The first to receive the vaccine was public health nurse Dawn Tamati.
She says it's an important first step in the fight against COVID-19 and protecting the community from the virus.
"I feel quite privileged to be the first one to get the vaccine. I truly believe in immunisations, they're so important and I feel like I'm doing my part. Immunisations are about keeping our whānau, our hapu, our iwi and our communities well, and I feel like I'm doing that today."
Leanne Smith administered the first injection and says it was "quite an honour" to do it.
"It's been such a wait for something that we've all wanted and to actually start vaccinating is exciting. I felt humbled to be asked to be the first in Waikato to give the vaccine."
She says the arrival of the vaccine is a significant milestone for the country and the region.
"We're making history and it is something our whānau will talk about for many, many generations."
The first stage of the vaccine rollout includes border workers and the managed isolation and quarantine workforce, and their household contacts.
Ikimoke Tamaki-Takarei manages cultural intervention for the region's managed isolation facilities and also received his first dose today.
He says it's critical for border workers to be the first line of protection for the communities and vulnerable populations.
"As part of border control for COVID-19, it's our responsibility to keep our families safe. We go home to our families every night. I return home to my new mokopuna, so it's my responsibility to keep her safe, to keep my children safe, and my immediate family safe," he says.
"A lot of our vulnerable whānau and our kaumatua suffer from some sort of respiratory illness, so we have to be able to protect them by getting a vaccine."
Household contacts of managed isolation workers will receive their immunisations by appointment at the dedicated vaccination centre.