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Published Thursday 28 Oct 2021

More than 3 million people are fully vaccinated in New Zealand and in Wairarapa we are focused on getting as many arms vaccinated as we possibly can.

The government has made it very clear that reaching 90% fully vaccinated eligible population is our key to moving ahead in a new normal that benefits everybody. We are working hard as a DHB to make that happen and are grateful to all those in our community that are getting on board to help.

We are all in this together. We all want the same thing – a life as normal as it can be, with a protected and safe population and a happy Christmas. If we all roll up our sleeves, we can make that happen.

This is our call to arms.

How are we doing?

·We know 85% of our eligible population have had at least one dose, but there are still over 6,000 that haven’t yet been vaccinated. To reach the 90% target the government is asking for, at least 2,200 more people need to roll up their sleeves for a first dose and everyone that has had a first dose, needs to get their second.

·That makes around 8,000 more doses needed to push Wairarapa past the 90% fully vaccinated marker.

·The DHB has the vaccinating capacity to deliver 8,000 doses in just a few weeks. We just need the arms.

What is the strategy?

·In order to manage vaccinations most efficiently, our strategy was to offer large permanent clinics in Masterton and in Featherston to ensure the initial high volume of demand was best met. We also provided mobile outreach to housebound and high needs people in their homes from the very beginning of the vaccination programme.

·Over the past six weeks, our approach extended to incorporate broadly advertised community-based vaccination pop-ups.

·We are now pulling back the permanent clinic capacity, increasing our travelling resource out to individuals and groups, and working to onboard primary care and pharmacies to deliver vaccinations.

How can people be vaccinated?

·Our vaccination teams have never been so accessible, making it easy for anyone anywhere in the region to have their first or second doses at home, in the workplace, or wherever suits them. Serving our communities “closer to home” literally doesn’t get any closer than in your home or place of work.

·If travelling to very isolated spots isn’t practical, we can discuss transport arrangements. We are doing all we can to ensure there are no barriers for anyone 12 years and over getting their vaccinations as quickly as we can deliver them.

·People wanting vaccinations that can’t get into the Masterton or Featherston clinics can email CVC@wairarapa.dhb.org.nz or phone 0800 Vax Wai (0800 829 924) to book our outreach team to come to them at a time that suits.

What about pop ups?

·We have been out to our rural communities and will continue to do so, offering pop ups at schools and workplaces and in public areas in the weekends. We work with the local community groups and Councils to share invitations far and wide. However our data tells us that our rural residents are largely already vaccinated.

·The pockets of unvaccinated sit squarely in our main urban service areas, particularly in Masterton East and Solway, and in Carterton. It is the unvaccinated residents in these areas that we really need to reach.

How are we supporting Māori and Pasifika?

·All our vaccination clinics and mobile opportunities work hard to encourage cultural diversity and provide a comfortable, safe, wrap around experience for everybody that attends.

·Our Iwi-led clinic, Tekau Mā Iwa is a kaupapa Māori service that offers vaccinations in its clinic on Chapel Street in Masterton. It also runs Hauora Clinics in the community, where people are welcome to come and talk about any aspect of health, receive healthcare advice, ask questions they may have about the Covid-19 vaccine and be vaccinated if they choose to do so. Providing the opportunity for supported conversation is really important if people are to make good, informed healthcare choices.

·Pasifika clinics have been held from the outset of the vaccination programme and have been very popular, bringing people together in a relaxed and supportive setting.

How are we supporting people with disabilities?

·All of our vaccination locations are accessible for people with disabilities, although where preferred we are always very happy to vaccinate people in their own homes. One in four New Zealanders identify as disabled or having an impairment, and we aim to be as inclusive and accessible as we possibly can.

·We have held group clinics for people with disabilities at our local disability provider premises. This was well supported and meant that clients were able to be together and in familiar surroundings while being vaccinated.

·People coming into our clinic locations that require special, more dedicated and personalised service are encouraged to email or phone first so we can be sure to cater for their needs in the best possible way.

Misinformation and what can we do about it?

·There is a lot of nonsense being shared on social media, and much of it is quite disturbing and very persuasive. Spreading false and misleading information can be extremely harmful.

·We need a whole of society approach to build awareness about false information and strengthen resilience to it, and to encourage people to get vaccination information from reliable sources.

·If you see something about COVID-19 or the vaccine that doesn’t seem right, it is important to report it. If it’s on social media you can report it to the platform – anything else can be reported to CERT NZ or call 0800 2378 69.