Wellington Scoop

Waiting no longer

by Lindsay Shelton
Less than 24 hours after publication of Monday’s article about covid vaccination delays in Wellington, I received a text message with an invitation to book a jab. I was quick to respond.

The offer arrived yesterday afternoon and told me I could either book by phone, or online.

Several friends had been pleased with the response from friendly phone operators when they were bypassing the Wellington delays and booking vaccinations in the Hutt Valley, so I decided to use the phone to access the system that I was being offered.

Less than an hour after receiving the text, I dialed the number, and heard an incomprehensible message. I dialed a second time, and heard the same garbled message. When I dialed a third time – the number was engaged.

Okay, so I went online to the website address that I’d been given to make my booking. No luck – it was offline. “We can’t connect with the server.”

So – fifth try – I dialed the phone number again. This time it was ringing. And ringing. And ringing. Someone answered after five minutes.

“I’m calling to book my vaccination,” I told him.

“We can’t do it at the moment,” he said. When I asked why, he told me – the website had crashed. (That was within the first hour of sending invitations to make bookings …) I asked if, therefore, I could make my booking on the phone. Not possible, I was told.

His advice – try the website in a couple of hours. Which I did, but it hadn’t recovered from its collapse. And six hours later I tried again – nothing online. So I went to bed. That was the end of my first day trying to book a covid vaccination in the Wellington system.

So, today’s a new day. And I was optimistic that things would be working this morning.

I went to the website. But it was still not accessible.

Then I tried the phone number. But it was engaged. At 8.30. At 9. At 9.30.

At 10am I tried one more time. The phone rang. This time it was answered. Yes, I could book my vaccination – both vaccinations, in fact.

Within a couple of minutes I was booked to have my first shot next Monday morning. It will be at a new vaccination centre (which I hadn’t heard of before) in The Hub on Kilbirnie Crescent. It’ll be the same venue three weeks later for my second jab, which is also booked.

Within a couple of minutes of making the booking on the phone, a text message arrived confirming both appointments, and giving me a number to call if I needed to cancel or reschedule. There’s certainly a feeling of relief, after weeks of wondering what’s happening.

And it was impressive to discover that – after yesterday’s false alarms – the new system is working so quickly and efficiently. The operator was friendly too.

I’ve since seen a tweet from CCDHB (the same message has been sent out by the HVDHB):

Thanks to the hundreds of hard working staff across our region who have helped us reach the milestone of 100,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine delivered. Working in cooperation with Primary Health Organisations, Māori and Pacific health providers, and community pharmacists, our programme continues to track ahead of where we’d planned to be at this point in the year. This week, we’re opening new clinics right across our region, including many at medical centres. These will start vaccinating Group 3, before moving on to Group 4. With increased capacity, our numbers will also increase, and we look forward to reaching more milestones soon.

So I’m happy at last to be participating in the increased vaccination capacity, and at a new vaccination clinic within easy reach in Wellington city.

UPDATE: 27 more vaccination centres by the end of next week


  1. Polly, 21. July 2021, 11:25

    Thanks Lindsay. My husband and I received an earlier call and had our first vaccinations and booked in for the second … very happy and cannot complain.

  2. Bored Mostly, 21. July 2021, 12:34

    Group 3 (cancer) and still no txt or call to book in for a vaccine. Process seems random and adhoc – three people at my work yesterday cheering they had their txt. It’s real hard not to think “what about me”. [Call 0800 714 200, tell them about your health condition, and ask for an appointment at a vaccination clinic that suits you.]

  3. Wendy, 21. July 2021, 16:14

    Well at long last maybe inner-city residents can finally hope to see the end of a very long anxious and unnecessary wait.

    I trust this exercise has made CCDHB and government aware that, not only is the inner-city (Wellington Central/Te Aro) the largest Wellington suburb in terms of population (on the smallest area of land) but that their living environment puts residents more at risk from covid as they live in close proximity in high-rise apartments, sharing their space with tourists, visitors, and the business, hospitality, and government sectors.

    Therefore, in the event of future pandemics and other catastrophes, we hope and expect the “powers that be” will give far more attention and consideration to the plight of inner-city residents, especially as the population is expected to grow considerably, adding to the high density environment and worrying issues associated with that.

  4. D'Esterre, 21. July 2021, 16:27

    We’re yet to hear anything. From anybody: apart from the don’t-call-us-we’ll-call-you text we all received on the last day of June. Kilbirnie wouldn’t be easily accessible for us. We hope that our local medical centre can eventually do the job. Or somewhere in Johnsonville.

  5. Graham Atkinson, 21. July 2021, 18:51

    Still waiting; no text or phone call from CCDHB.

  6. TrevorH, 21. July 2021, 19:19

    We’ve heard nothing.

  7. Toni, 22. July 2021, 7:53

    I heard on RNZ today that the government intend to start vaccinating group 4 next week, though only 1 in 5 of those over 65 in the high-risk group have been able to get vaccinated, and only 5% of over 65s in Wellington have had both doses. Guess that lets the over-65 New Zealanders know where the government’s priorities lie.

  8. Graham Atkinson, 22. July 2021, 10:00

    Text arrived today but link didn’t work – what a surprise.

  9. Trevor Mallard, 22. July 2021, 11:13

    I’m in group 3. Got text just after 9 for COVID-19 vaccination. Took one minute to book for 10am. Had vaccine. Made 2nd booking, done my 20 min quiet time, and not 1030 yet. [via twitter]

  10. Graham Atkinson, 22. July 2021, 12:06

    Link worked when tried later in the morning, and bookings done at the convenient “pop up” vaccination centre in Kilbirnie.

  11. Meredith, 22. July 2021, 12:35

    Trevor Mallard. The Hutt seems to have (and have had it) it sussed? Wgtn somewhat variable/random. There still seem to be significant numbers of group 3 in Wellington with no bookings and no vaccinations.

  12. D'Esterre, 22. July 2021, 13:54

    Toni, I also heard that news this morning. In this household, we concluded that the government doesn’t think that group 3 people will vote for it in any numbers at the next election. However, about an hour after I heard that, my partner and I both got a text, inviting us to book, and supplying both a website and an 0800 number.

  13. Doug, 22. July 2021, 15:49

    I am in group 3 and last month got turned away at the Karori Mall vaccination clinic (because I am not enrolled with the Karori Medical Centre) and was told to contact my GP, who said she had no information. I have heard nothing since. However today the CCDHB announced that 27 more vaccination centres will be open by the end of next week. Hope at last?

  14. Sue, 22. July 2021, 15:54

    I’m 70 and so far no call up… some of my friends are also waiting.

  15. Gwynn Compton, 22. July 2021, 16:34

    Having an autoimmune disease, I feel very relieved to have received my first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. While I’m fortunate today, I know many are still waiting and are frustrated, in large part due to the lofty expectations the Govt set with their rhetoric last year. In terms of the experience, I received my invitation by text this morning and managed to get a booking today and the follow up one easily, which was great. The frontline staff at the Paraparaumu vaccination centre have been fantastic , friendly, and professional too. [via twitter]

  16. Phil Quin, 22. July 2021, 18:19

    Mum & Dad got their first jab this week. No discomfort or side effects. Predictably excellent staff. Super grateful they’ve been able to glide thru the pandemic at their stage in life w/o serious risk of infection, mostly unaffected by lockdowns, and now (mostly) inoculated. [via twitter]

  17. Ray Chung, 22. July 2021, 20:29

    D’Esterre, the government must be monitoring your thoughts. I must start repeating this mantra so they’ll send me a text too.

  18. Phil, 23. July 2021, 8:52

    Seems very hit & miss for Group 3 people in Wellington. I seem to be in the same Group 3 group as the omitted or forgotten. Nothing since Manage My Health message from GP suggesting they’ve got no idea when any Group 3 vax will be available in Wgtn city region. [See today’s announcement – you can now ring a special 088 number.]

  19. D'Esterre, 23. July 2021, 9:18

    Yes, Ray, it was almost as if somebody was listening!
    We haven’t yet managed to make bookings. The 0800 line has been overloaded, and we wish to make our appointments at the same time, on account of we must share transport. I tried again this morning, and got a message to say that I’d be notified when it was my turn to be vaccinated. Then a message saying that if I wished to change my appointment, could I please leave a message after the tone. Not enormously helpful.

    Interesting fact: we each received a “unique code”, but they’re identical. Now we wonder how many other people have the same code.

  20. D'Esterre, 23. July 2021, 11:04

    We’ve managed to make an appointment at the Johnsonville vaccination centre in the mall. My partner and I have got appointments at roughly the same time. I’ve also just received a text confirming the appointment.

    Ray, I suggest you try that new 0800 number referred to above.

  21. Laurie, 23. July 2021, 15:10

    Yes at last. I have my booking at my local health center for next week – a result of patiently waiting my turn (over 65). This morning I had a text offering details for making a booking from the Waikato DHB! I live in North Canterbury. Words fail me.

  22. michael, 23. July 2021, 15:38

    Still waiting for my text . . . has CCDHB overlooked people living in the Central City? My doctor has no idea what is happening.

  23. Ray Chung, 23. July 2021, 17:37

    Thanks, D’Esterre. Yes, I was in Johnsonville Mall today and saw the vaccination centre in the old PaperPlus store there and they said there were people who made appointments but never arrived so they are able to take casual drop-ins at times. Good that you were able to make an appointment too!

  24. Tina Porou, 27. July 2021, 8:55

    I had absolutely no problems booking in yesterday when I received my text. It was super simple and easy! Really stoked I’m getting my jab this week and grateful that we have this opportunity when so many around the world don’t. [via twitter]