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Prime Minister Mark Brown has announced today that the COVID-19 vaccination roll-out will commence from Thursday 18th May 2021.

“With the support of the New Zealand government, we have managed to provide the Cook Islands with sufficient Pfizer vaccine to provide full coverage for all our eligible population,” he said.

“On behalf of the government and people of the Cook Islands, I extend to Prime Minister Ardern, the government and people of New Zealand, our heartfelt gratitude for their provision of the Pfizer vaccine which will arrive in Rarotonga next week.

“On February 10th this year, the New Zealand government approved Pfizer as the primary vaccine provider for the New Zealand population. This decision was based on the fact that the Pfizer vaccine has been shown to be about 95 per cent effective at preventing symptomatic infection.

“Our Cabinet approved the Pfizer vaccine for our people on March 17th, for the same reasons as New Zealand. The selection of Pfizer means that our people, together with all New Zealanders, will be able to access the same vaccines.

“All residents in the Cook Islands over the age of 16 years are eligible for vaccination. No one will miss out.”

With Te Marae Ora – Ministry of Health taking the lead, the Cook Islands government has worked closely with New Zealand Ministry of Health officials over the past few months to develop the Cook Islands vaccination roll-out programme.

It is planned that all eligible Rarotonga residents will have received their first dose of the vaccine by 1st June. Vaccination will then commence on Aitutaki from 2nd June, followed by the rest of the Pa Enua from 28th June. More information on the timing of the vaccine rollout will be made available on the TMO website at

New Zealand support includes technical advice, vaccine logistics planning and support, and vaccinator workforce training. It also includes the supply of consumables such as syringes and the transportation of vaccines.

“Te Marae Ora is finalising roll-out plans that will see our vaccinations get underway from Thursday 18th May, starting with frontline health staff and border workers, then, hotel staff, before we begin with the general public shortly after,” said Prime Minister Brown.

“We will be leading the way by asking our MPs and House of Ariki to be vaccinated as an example to our people.

“I urge everyone to stay informed as Te Marae Ora and our Border Easement Taskforce provide further information on the vaccine roll-out.

“Vaccine information including registration and vaccination processes, dates for Rarotonga and the Pa Enua roll-out and other pertinent information will continue to be provided by Te Marae Ora officials and our fantastic Kia Orana Aunties in the coming days, so stay informed.

“Vaccination is not mandatory – however, I urge all of our people, all of our residents, to be vaccinated. It is free. It is safe. It will save lives. It could save your life and the lives of your loved ones.

“No one and no country is immune to the devastating effects of COVID-19. Let us continue to work together to lift the protection of our people against COVID-19 through our whole-of-nation vaccination programme,” the Prime Minister concluded.

ENDS: Enquiries to Jaewynn McKay, +682 55486