PM Jacinda Ardern says she will get vaccinated before the rollout to the public in the middle of the year, which could allow her to travel overseas again.
Some other country's leaders – including Australia's PM Scott Morrison – were among the first to get vaccines, saying it was important to show the public they were confident in the safety of the vaccine.
But Ardern said it was important that New Zealand's limited initial stock went to those who needed it most: the workers at the border and in managed isolation facilities.
However, she told the Weekend Herald that she would not wait until the middle of the year, when the wider public rollout begins.
"It didn't feel right to me to be in that [first] cohort, but that doesn't mean I'm going to wait until the middle of the year either."
"I haven't quite decided when it will be. There's a balance for me, and being among the first didn't feel right."
Going ahead of the public rollout would help set an example: Ardern has said skepticism and concern about the vaccine is one of the biggest challenges for the rollout.
However, a vaccine will potentially allow Ardern to travel overseas again in the near future, and try to reinvigorate trade talks.
Her last trip was to Australia a year ago – where she found out New Zealand had its first case.
Ardern said the first trips would be trade-related, trying to get more momentum in negotiations with the EU and the United Kingdom, as well as the US where new President Joe Biden presented opportunities for New Zealand.
Ardern said the change in administration was another reason to go.
She had not considered whether to try to get to Glasgow in November for the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference – COP26.
Last week, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said some Cabinet ministers would also get earlier vaccines, such as those whose portfolios related to Covid-19 such as Customs and Health.
The rollout will expand from MIQ and border workers to those in the health sector and vulnerable groups, such as the elderly, before the public starts getting vaccines around the middle of the year. It is expected to take a year after that to complete the rollout – and it is likely annual vaccinations will be needed after that.
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