Cantabrians are warned not to take their foot off the vaccination pedal as the threat of a delta outbreak looms over the shores of the South Island.
About 86 percent of residents have received their first dose of Pfizer, just 4 percent less than the region’s goal for the working weekend.
But with about 60 percent of Cantabrians double-voided, General Practitioner and Senior Lecturer at the University of Otago in Christchurch, Dr. Maira Patu said they need as many blows to the arms as possible, now.
“It’s easy to get a little complacent when you’re not here,” he said.
“It’s a good balance to answer questions, not wanting to scare people, but really encouraging people to come and get vaccinated.
“The virus is coming, it will be in our community very soon. So if we want to be able to stay safe, keep our healthcare system running and get on with our lives, then we need to get vaccinated.”
Patu is the clinical leader of the MIHI (Māori / Indigenous Health Institute) team, which offers walk-in vaccinations to students at the Ara Institute in Canterbury.
A host of clinics are open on Ara’s campuses in Ōtautahi and Timaru this week, to offer students easy access to the Covid-19 jab.
Ara Te Tiriti Partnerships CEO Te Marino Lenihan said it’s about people protecting people.
“Family well-being is our motivation, protecting our communities, protecting the future,” he said.
“Allowing them to have freedom during the summer and beyond, that is our motivation.
“And if our people are healthy, then our institutions are healthy.”
Lenihan expected the clinics to see an increase in the number of Maori Rangitahi students and fully vaccinated.
“We know that New Zealand youth were last on the priority list for the vaccine launch,” he said.
“So there’s a bit of a buildup of Maori rangitahi in the system. Add to that this generation of, you know, social media warriors, internet warriors, the proliferation of misinformation, there are a lot of barriers for our people.
“We just want to be nice, we want to be present, we want our youth to be the face of this. It is for the youth, for the youth.”
Dr Maira Patu said the Canterbury DHB has supported Maori and Pasifika healthcare providers so far in launching the vaccine.
“For this next wave of launch, we are really looking for rangitahi to lead us,” he said.
“We will take the vaccine to where they want to have it and we will have conversations and help with education in any way they want.
“So we would really like to hand over this part of the deployment to them. We can run the clinical service, but they are the ones who are going to be vaccinated.”
Canterbury health board manager John Carson said he is impressed with the massive acceptance of students rolling up their sleeves for the jab.
“We are very happy to see that the students have taken advantage of the opportunities [to get vaccinated] all over the place and now we’re finding that most of the students have gotten dose one and a lot of them are not ready for dose two, so that will come a little later. “
As for ensuring today’s vaccinated students return after three weeks for that important second dose, Ara’s student voice coordinator Angus Howat, who is behind the free kai and coffee offer, said more clinics are planned.
“So if people have come for the first one now, they can come and get their follow up from somewhere familiar with friendly faces, people they already know, have seen on campus, and can trust a little more than some strangers.”