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Published Wednesday 10 Nov 2021

We are pleased that 87% of our eligible population is fully vaccinated, and congratulate all those that have engaged with the Covid-19 vaccination programme. We are working hard to continue to deliver doses and raise the bar to meet, and hopefully beat, the 90% target the government has set.

Our goalpost has never shifted – we are moving at pace to protect the health of our Wairarapa region before Covid hits.

We all know its coming. We won’t be able to keep Covid out and it could well be here by Christmas. Vaccination is our primary protection and 87% is not good enough. Wairarapa needs to do better and we are doing everything we can to assist.

Our vaccination team is working extremely hard, often under challenging circumstances, and the additional workload on the health sector is huge. The spotlight is on each DHB to deliver – and we are more than doing our bit. Our strategy is to get vaccinations to our people and everyone by now knows that with a quick phone call or email, they can book a vaccination in their own home if they so wish. Access to doses is not a barrier. We are doing all we possibly can, but we need the arms to be successful and the arms are in the hands of the people.

This is why we have decided to provide an incentive.

The decision to introduce incentives, where people are rewarded for getting their first dose, was carefully considered. Where an incentive is introduced part way through a campaign to encourage uptake, it can be seen to award the slower participants and so by default ‘disadvantage’ those that moved first to vaccinate. Introducing incentives is a tough call to make, but when it comes to our vaccination programme it was the necessary next step.

When Covid comes it will come at a cost. People will suffer. Right now, we can mitigate that by vaccinating. Many of us were vaccinated early and were pleased to do so. A number of us refuse to be vaccinated, and that is their right. But some of us just haven’t got around to it yet, and that is the audience we are incentivising.

Making vaccination more appealing with a $100 gift card for first doses might be enough to encourage the ‘not got around to it yet’ people to take action now.

We are grateful for all those that moved quickly to vaccinate and thank them for doing so. We know that the gift card incentive for those that have been slow off the mark won’t land well with our 87% and we apologise for that. But we make no apology for doing everything we can to protect our population as best we can, as soon as we can, before the virus calls “too late,” and providing an incentive is a tool we have that we just have to use right now.

Every day we are understanding more about vaccination cards and how everyday life, business and travel opportunities will rely on them. We are seeing the data coming in from overseas and now from within Aotearoa that clearly tells us that vaccinated people recover better than unvaccinated when it comes to getting the virus. Vaccination saves lives and offers us freedoms.

Vaccination is the most important game in town right now and in order to serve our population as best we can, the incentive approach is one we need to try.

To our fully vaccinated population, thank you. To those that have had one dose, great work – please get your second dose when it is due. To all those that are not yet vaccinated, please make sure your decision is well informed and, if you just haven’t got around to it yet, now is definitely your time.

For all your Wairarapa vaccination information, see our website: http://www.wairarapa.dhb.org.nz/news-and-publications/covid-19/covid-vaccination/