Wellington Scoop

Wgtn vaccination rollout going up

unichem vaccinations
Lambton Quay Unichem Pharmacy vaccinator Georgia Lidstone, and business manager and pharmacist Victor Chong. Photo: RNZ / Hamish Cardwell

Report from RNZ by Hamish Cardwell
Wellington’s vaccination rollout has leaped ahead in recent weeks, after a slower start.

Pharmacies like Unichem Wellington Central on Lambton Quay are now central in the race to vaccinate. Business manager and pharmacist Victor Chong said it began vaccinating a month ago, and is doing more than 200 bookings and walk-ins a day.

Caleb, who was lined up outside to get a shot, said it was all about location.

“For me convenience was the biggest thing. If I can just pop out of the office, get it and then go back to work then you know why not? But if I have to drive somewhere, walk ages then I might not do it as soon as I could.”

Wellington has had a remarkable turnaround, going from having one of the worst vaccination numbers nationally to one of the best in a couple of months.

In the past two weeks it’s gone from sixth to third place nationally – moving from 57 percent first dose coverage of those eligible to 75.5 percent. RNZ analysis shows a quarter of all vaccinations in Wellington have been done in the fortnight through to last Tuesday.

A full quarter of all eligible Wellington residents have received a jab in the past two weeks.

But the slow start means Wellington is off the pace dishing out second doses, remaining third last nationwide at 24.4 percent a fortnight ago, compared with 31.9 percent. It is likely to rise up the rankings once those waiting their six weeks between shots become eligible.

And Māori rates are still lagging behind – fewer than one in five Māori have got a vaccination in the past fortnight compared with more than one in four eligible Wellington residents.

GPs helping with surge

College of General Practitioners medical director Dr Bryan Betty said the government kept GPs at arm’s length in the early part of the rollout, and now compliance barriers having been worked through more are coming onboard.

“The more points of access that you have in a particular area, the better off you are going to be in terms of access to the vaccine and ability to get it pushed out.

“We know there are some DHBs across the country that have not involved general practice [as much] for instance, and … I think they’re struggling a bit because they’re very centralised in their approach.”

Dr Betty said the region’s DHB pushing a community-based approach – including Māori and Pacific providers – was key to the region racing up the national rankings.

porirua vaccinators
The Porirua Union and Community Health Clinic’s vaccination team: from left, Ioana Viliamu-Amusia, Sally Tui, Uili Te’o, Maire Christeller and Ma’u Pauta. Photo: RNZ / Hamish Cardwell

The Porirua Union and Community Health Clinic is in Cannon’s Creek. About half its clients are Pasifika, a quarter are Māori and it also has hundreds of refugees on its books. Numbers through the clinic shot up about a month ago to more than 600 a day.

Clinic vaccinator Ma’u Pauta said it was successful because its workers were from the same communities they treated, and had the social connections to target populations. But in the past week or so Porirua Union’s vaccination numbers have tapered off and it is now struggling to get people through its doors.

Dr Betty also works at the clinic and said while online misinformation was a nationwide problem, it was particularly dissuading rangatahi in the area. He said misinformation builds on disadvantaged groups’ existing distrust of the health system where they have often faced poor treatment.

People’s religious beliefs also put some people off.

Ioana Viliamu-Amusia from the clinic said misinformation was keeping young people away.

“One young man that I spoke to today said that there’s not enough positive things out there about the vaccine, too many negatives out there – more than anything else.” She said the DHB, the government and the media needed to put more resources into the online pro-vaccination messaging.

Region using mobile clinics

Capital & Coast and Hutt Valley DHB chief executive Fionnagh Dougan said bookings in the coming weeks looked healthy, but the biggest challenge was to reach those who are hesitant.

She said mobile vaccination teams were out in the community and a vaccination truck was being used to establish pop-up vaccination sites at locations including marae, churches, and community halls.

“We are now considering other mobile options to deliver vaccinations to known ‘hot spots’ that have a large number of unvaccinated people, and [we] are commissioning Kahungunu Whenua Services to deliver a mobile vaccination service to our homeless community and people in emergency housing.”

1 comment:

  1. Kara, 19. September 2021, 14:51

    I am lucky to have a proactive GP. I rang the PHO in Wellington and asked them to let the GPs get on with it. After all, the GPs know their clients very well. Now I am fully vaccinated.
    Pirongia te maunga. Waipa te awa. Tainui te waka. Maniapoto te tangata. Te Kopua toku marae.