Thursday, December 9

Offering tests and vaccinations at the same time is not appropriate – DHB boss

Manukau Counties DHB says it does not seek to vaccinate people at the same time they are tested for Covid-19, because it is better to keep the two groups separate.

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Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Testing focused on seven Auckland suburbs resumed today, and people are encouraged to get a swab even if they have no symptoms.

The suburbs are under scrutiny from health officials because of their association with groups or links to mysterious cases.

Counties Manukau DHB Executive Director Margie Apa said Morning report at this stage, health officials were not going to offer the vaccine at the same time, and the focus was kept on testing.

Apa, who is also the leader of the Northern Region Health Coordination Center, said discussions had been held about the possibility of merging the two services to increase efficiency, but the idea was problematic.

“Testing is usually offered to those who have symptoms and people who come in for vaccination are generally fine. So, well, I really don’t want to mix that up,” he said.

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A self-service vaccination site in South Auckland.
Photo: Supplied / ADHB

The focus was to remain on the evidence and cast a wide web over those suburbs associated with recent mystery cases. 9,000 tests were performed yesterday and Ara wanted that number to remain high.

“Certainly we would like to see tests well above the daily rate of 9,000 to 10,000,” he said.

“The focus today and for the rest of the week is really testing particular areas … We have community testing centers within a five to 10 minute drive of each of those suburbs.”

He said the reasons for establishing test sites in locations were based on a number of factors, including unrelated positive cases admitted to Middlemore Hospital.

“We just want us to launch our network over these suburbs, just to make sure we don’t have any cases out there. We are also aware that some of the cases that came in last week, while we detected one, came from large families.

There were several other people in the house who ended up testing positive. So we want to offer an accessible test site for these suburbs. “

So far no positive test results have been obtained.

The self-service centers allowed the whole family to come in and made testing more accessible, he said.

A mobile test vehicle also allowed additional capacity to reach communities further, Ara added.

Auckland vaccinators are in the final stages of plans for mobile clinics that will go from street to street.

An information campaign had been launched on social media to alert people to available services, while there were 200 GP clinics in the area that also offer testing, he said.

Pasifika immunologist Dr. Dianne Sika-Paotonu said it was great to see that the government was finally listening to repeated calls from the Maori and Pasifika communities to abandon the “one size fits all” approach.

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Dr. Dianne Sika-Paotonu.
Photo: University of Otago

Sika-Paotonu, an immunologist with the Pacific office at the University of Otago in Wellington, said Morning report the health system needed to meet people where they were.

He said the health system had to break down barriers, such as transportation, for Maori and Pasifika to get vaccinated, and mobile clinics were one way to do that.

Sika-Paotonu said he expected to see more initiatives such as mobile vaccination centers on the streets.

“This is a great way to be able to interact with Pasifika, but also with our Maori communities. What is really needed here is a focus on ‘equity approaches’ – doing whatever it takes to get the results that are needed,” he said. . said.

“Previously, we have relied within the health system on a more equitable, one-size-fits-all approach, doing the same for everyone and hoping that the results will be great for everyone, when we know that that doesn’t really work for Pasifika and our Maori communities. “.

He said that there had been some very successful community events and activities since then and that the mobile test vehicles would work, but only if Pasifika drove them from the start.

“I think, in principle, yes, as long as the necessary preliminary steps are taken and what I mean by that is that every time initiatives are implemented, they involve our Pasifika health workforce,” he said.

“So having our Pasifika workforce involved from the beginning and not involving them at the last minute to try to make things work.”

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