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Waikato Herald - 2021-07-23

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New centre has capacity to vaccinate 1000 people a day

News

Danielle Zollickhofer

Waikato DHB and Waikato-tainui have opened Waikato’s largest Covid-19 vaccination site at Te Awa, The Base shopping centre, in Te Rapa. The site was chosen for its convenient location, size, good public transport connections and parking. With about 125,000 people in group 3 to vaccinate in the Waikato DHB takiwa¯ alone, the Te Awa site will become a focal point for the region’s vaccination programme. The centre can vaccinate up to 1000 people a day and will be by appointment only, with the first vaccinations to begin today. When it is in full operation it will run seven days a week, Monday to Saturday 9am to 5pm, and Sunday from 10am to 5pm. The site is run in partnership with Waikato-tainui, Tainui Group Holdings and Kiwi Property. Waikato DHB chief executive Dr Kevin Snee says: “We know that the more people who get the vaccine, the more protected we are against Covid19 and any future outbreaks. It will also be a major step closer to getting back to our everyday lives.” Dr Snee says the collaboration with Waikato-tainui is an example of the shared purpose of the DHB, iwi, Ma¯ori and Pacific health providers, PHOS, pharmacies and general practice to protect our community from Covid-19. He says partnering with many organisations across the DHB’S takiwa¯ has meant the vaccination programme has been tailored to the unique needs of the region’s communities, keeping them at the heart of the process. Dr Snee also acknowledged the hard work of the local vaccination teams and the effort behind the scenes to get Te Awa ready for the public. He recognised Waikato-tainui for their support of the Covid-19 vaccination programme and their commitment to improving the health of the people of Waikato. “When Covid-19 first touched our shores last year, we were given a tongikura from Kiingi Tuuheitia that to protect the wellbeing of our people is paramount. This has been woven throughout our entire Covid-19 response and drives our vaccination programme.” Dr Snee says he is grateful for the DHB’S partners who signed up to become part of the vaccination programme and for the important role they play. “We still have a way to go to ensure our entire population is able to be vaccinated, but through our collaboration and common purpose we are now well positioned to meet the challenge ahead.” The DHB says the Waikato’s vaccination rollout is going well with more than 95,000 doses delivered so far and bookings for group 4 opening up soon. Over half the people receiving the vaccine in Waikato have had their first dose, and 35,810 are now fully vaccinated. Only 16 per cent of recipients identify as Ma¯ori and 3 per cent as Pacific. Waikato — Tainui executive chairwoman Linda Te Aho says the new partnership is an example of working together for a common purpose and combining resources to better protect the community. “This is a significant milestone and it exemplifies the words of Kingi Tuheitia Potatau Te Wherowhero VII, ‘Amohia ake te ora o te iwi, ka puta ki te wheiao’ or ‘To protect the wellbeing of our people is paramount’. Waikato-tainui will always support these initiatives because we have strong historical narratives around the effects of global pandemics on our people.” While the Te Awa centre will be the largest in Waikato, there will also be a range of centres set up throughout the region for residents to receive their vaccinations close to where they live. These will include selected pharmacies, GP practices, Ma¯ ori and Pacific health providers, and fixed and mobile sites. Additional community vaccination centres are going to be set up in Thames, Morrinsville, Matamata, Te Awamutu, Cambridge and Tokoroa, and will be operational from early August. Pacific community trust K’aute Pasifika in Hamilton is an accredited vaccination clinic and has been operating for the past six weeks. CEO Rachel Karalus is excited about how their clinic is going. “With limited staff and hours, we vaccinated over 1000 people in six weeks, with eight hours of clinic a week,” Karalus said. “We have a deal with the DHB to give 35 vaccines every two hours on average, but when you look at our numbers, we’re doing almost double that.” She says most people who would book in to get the jab at K’aute Pasifika get an appointment within a week. Karalus received her vaccination a couple of weeks ago. “I recommend everyone to get it. I didn’t even feel my first jab and only had some pain in my arm with the second one.” She says some people who come in to get the jab are still hesitant. “But their reasons outweigh their anxiety about the vaccine. Lots of people commented they had grandchildren overseas and the wish to travel again was their motivation to get [the jab].” K’aute Pasifika is working on mobilising its clinic to distribute the vaccine directly into the community. Karalus says: “It’s a way to better engage with them through going to the people and their churches.” The Covid-19 vaccine is free to everyone in New Zealand — it doesn’t matter what your visa or citizenship status is. If you are eligible to receive the vaccine, health services send you an invite via text, including a link to a website, a freephone number and a reference code to book an appointment. The Covid-19 vaccination programme has so far focused on groups 1 and 2 and a small number of group 3, but as of July 28 the first people belonging to group 4 will be able to receive the vaccine. Those in group 3, which includes people 65 and over, those with underlying health conditions, people with disabilities, and pregnant women, are now receiving their invitations to book their vaccination appointments via the national Book My Vaccine system. Group 1 consists of border and managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) workers, group 2 means highrisk frontline healthcare workers and people living in high-risk places, and group 3 consists of people who are at risk of getting very sick from Covid19. The largest group, group 4, will be able to receive the vaccination in age bands starting on July 28 with people aged 60 and over. The next age band is people aged 55 and over, with bookings opening on August 11. Depending on vaccine supply and progress with other age groups, invitations will open to people over 45 from mid-to-late August, and for people 35 and over, from mid-to-late September. Everyone else will be eligible from October, meaning everyone has the opportunity to get vaccinated by the end of the year. Senior responsible officer for the Waikato DHB Covid-19 vaccination programme, Maree Munro, says: “When the vaccination programme in Waikato is at full capacity we expect to deliver between 20,000 to 30,000 vaccinations per week.” Find out how to book an appointment at: https:/ /tinyurl.com/yh52wjov To make an appointment to get vaccinated at K’aute Pasifika: email Robert. Lavei@kautepasifika.co.nz

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