New Zealand Will Buy COVID-19 Vaccines for All Its Island Neighbors | 22 Words

Incredible news just in from New Zealand...

During a press conference today, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made an announcement regarding the new COVID-19 vaccine...

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And, in doing so, she cemented herself further as one of the world's most beloved leaders. Here's the full story...

Ardern first became Prime Minister in 2017...

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And her compassionate and progressive leadership immediately stood out from the rest.

Take her response to the Christchurch shootings last year, for example.

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On March 15, 2019, New Zealand, for the first time in its modern history, witnessed a horrific terrorist attack on the Muslim community.

Fifty-one people lost their lives.

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Ardern, who is agnostic, held a press conference to deliver a message to bring her country's citizens together.

“They are us," she said of the victims.

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“New Zealand has been chosen because it was safe because it was no place for hatred or racism. Because we represent diversity, kindness, compassion, home for those who share our values. Refuge for those who need it." Then, addressing the shooter, she said: “You may have chosen us – we utterly reject and condemn you."

Her next move?

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She immediately implemented tighter gun laws across the nation.

The move drew in even more widespread praise...

And has since been used as an example of how leadership should be done.

New Zealand has also become the latest country to stamp down on period poverty.

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For Ardern, it's clear that achieving gender equality is at the top of her agenda. "Kindness, and not being afraid to be kind, or to focus on, or be really driven by empathy," she has said of what is at the core of her leadership approach.

Ardern continued:

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“I think one of the sad things that I’ve seen in political leadership is – because we’ve placed over time so much emphasis on notions of assertiveness and strength – that we probably have assumed that it means you can’t have those other qualities of kindness and empathy. And yet, when you think about all the big challenges that we face in the world, that’s probably the quality we need the most."

It's not hard to see why Ardern is so passionate about women's rights...

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She is the 3rd female prime minister of New Zealand and, at forty-years-old, the second youngest prime minister... and the youngest female prime minister.

Ardern recently announced that sanitary products will be free for young women in schools across the country from 2021...

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Ardern said that sanitary supplies for a monthly period were not a luxury, but a necessity, and that too many girls were skipping school because they weren’t able to afford pads and tampons. “We know that nearly 95,000 9-to-eighteen-year-olds may stay at home during their periods due to not being able to afford period products. By making them freely available, we support these young people to continue learning at school," she said at the time.

Before the COVID outbreak, Ardern also had to deal with a volcano eruption in New Zealand...

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And, she was once again praised for her empathetic approach to the disaster, which claimed the lives of sixteen people. Paying tribute to those who were tragically killed, she said: “Many people did extraordinary things to save lives, those who have been lost are now forever linked to New Zealand, and we will hold them close."

So, it's safe to say that in terms of leadership, New Zealand is faring pretty well...

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But there's one aspect of Ardern's time as prime minister that stands out amongst the rest.

Her response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been nothing short of incredible.

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Ardern's approach is certainly one of the most celebrated, especially when it comes down to how fast she acted.

The way she's navigated the pandemic has been widely praised...

According to Vogue, a recent poll found that Ardern is the country’s most popular leader in a hundred years, with ninety-two percent of respondents saying they support the measures she has implemented.

And, now that the vaccine is available...

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She has gone above and beyond to make sure that, not only does her own country receive it, but her neighboring countries do too.

In a press conference today, Ardern revealed that the country will purchase vaccines from pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca and Novavax...

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Adding to its existing pre-purchase agreements with Pfizer/BioNTech and Janssen, meaning they will have more than enough vaccines to treat the 5 million New Zealand residents, who will each receive 2 doses each for free.

She said this:

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"This will be New Zealand’s largest immunization rollout ever. Most countries are factoring the rollout to take all of 2021 and some of 2022 to complete due to its scale and complexity, also due to production and delivery timeframes. "Our first priority will be to vaccinate border workers and essential staff who are at the greatest risk of getting COVID-19. We expect vaccines to be delivered to our front line workers in the second quarter of 2021."

And, just when you thought this news couldn't get any better...

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Once its own residents are covered, government officials said that they will go a step further and provide free doses to neighboring nations, such as Tokelau, the Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa, Tonga, and Tuvalu, if they want to accept them. In a statement, the government explained that it purchased different types of vaccines to ensure that "if some are found in development or in trials not to be a successful option" then it will have alternatives available.

What an incredible gesture.

You can watch her speech above - can be Jacinda Ardern be our leader? For more on the progressive leader's fight against COVID, keep scrolling...