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NZ staging vaxathon on Super Saturday

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has unveiled a retro-style televised “vaxathon” with plenty of Kiwiana as the centrepiece of her Super Saturday COVID-19 vaccination drive.

This weekend, New Zealanders are being urged to head to COVID-19 vaccine clinics to get their first or second doses and share in a national push to surge vaccination rates.

New Zealand was one of the slowest to start vaccinating in the developed world, with ministers citing vaccine supply from Pfizer for the delay.

Mounting cases from a Delta outbreak beginning in August have prompted a hurry-up.

“We need a big collective effort and we need it soon. The countdown is on,” Ms Ardern said.

Broadcasters Three and Maori TV will show the eight-hour vaxathon, beginning at noon on Saturday.

A live vaccine scoreboard will be used to showcase the best performing places, with Ms Ardern hoping for “healthy competition between towns and regions”.

“Nationwide, we have the capacity to administer well over 100,000 vaccines in a single day,” she said.

“Vaccinations will be available throughout the day and into the night on Saturday across GP clinics … pharmacies, marae, churches, mosques, community centres, workplaces and drive-thru centres.”

Celebrities will be involved, and Ms Ardern told Kiwis to expect “a bit of nostalgia” harking back to telethons of years gone by.

As of Tuesday, 80 per cent of New Zealand’s population aged 12 or over are at least partially vaccinated, and 56 per cent are double-dosed.

Those figures drop markedly in some regional areas, and among Maori and Pacific island communities.

They are higher, however, among Aucklanders – the centre of the Delta outbreak.

Some 87 per cent of Aucklanders are at least partially vaccinated, and Ms Ardern wants to hit 90 per cent by the end of Super Saturday.

“Our current vaccination record for a single day is 93,354 vaccines in one day … and our biggest number of vaccines in a single week is 552,586,” she said.

“Those are the records that we should try and beat this week.”

Ms Ardern’s 90 per cent target for the City of Sails won’t be reached without an almighty effort: it needs 45,000 more jabs before Saturday and recorded just 4355 on Tuesday.

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