9 Apr 2021

New Ōtara Covid-19 vaccination clinic operating at 20% capacity

From Checkpoint, 5:22 pm on 9 April 2021

A new Covid-19 vaccination clinic in Ōtara could be vaccinating five times the number of people that are booked in. 

South Seas vaccination clinic, in the old Manukau Institute tech building, was on its second day of operation today working through people in group 1 and 2 due to get their Covid-19 jab. 

Tavita Otto was receiving his vaccine with his wife and said it was an opportunity he did not want to miss. 

"My daughter, she works though at the airport at customs. Yeah, I just found out last week, my wife told me, yeah we got an appointment to our vaccination today so I took a day off." 

Northern Region Covid Co-ordinator Centre Pacific incident controller Meg Poutasi explained it was a quick and easy process.

"Find a time to come in that suits you, you can bring you family members, there's a quick health check, short wait and then you're basically called for a vaccine." 

They were also well resourced. 

"There's a team of at least 20, four vaccinators a day and they work really efficiently to help people through the process. We can do 500 vaccinations a day and there are larger sites in Auckland where we could do 1000 a day."

Today, there was just 100 people booked with the possibility of a few walk-ins booked by a GP or NGO. 

It meant they were only vaccinating 20 percent of what they could be. 

South Seas vaccination clinic in the old Manukau Institute tech building.

The clinic was operating far below what it could be.  Photo: RNZ / Simon Rogers

Yesterday's numbers were even lower - with just 50 people booked in for their vaccine due to a half day at the clinic. 

Immunisation Advisory Centre director Dr Nikki Turner put that down to the decision to vaccinate with just the Pfizer vaccine, which had specific storage needs.

"The Pfizer vaccine requires to stay in ultra cold temperatures and once it's taken out of that you've only got a five day window. 

"If you don't have well organised clinics with where you can exactly count who's coming in and a plan of what to do if people don't turn up, you stand to lose a lot of vaccine and vaccine is a precious commodity." 

When vaccinating the wider public, it was all about getting the right numbers, she said. 

"It was easier when you had people and the borders and MIQ numbers but as we get bigger there's a lot of leg work that needs to go in to ensure that these big clinic are set up for people to want to come to them." 

Nurse Irata Passi was doing vaccinations today and admitted it had been difficult to strike the vaccine-to-patient balance. 

South Seas vaccination clinic in the old Manukau Institute tech building.

 Tavita Otto, whose daughter works at the airport, was at the centre to get a vaccine today.  Photo: RNZ / Simon Rogers

"I'm working between the mixing room and here because of too many patients coming in today, we're helping at each station."

Mayor Phil Goff was at the clinic for a visit. Because of his age and the fact he lives in Counties Manukau DHB area - he was in group two for a vaccine. 

"I'm just waiting for my call from the district health board, that will probably come up this month. Nobody likes having injections but it's really important that I do, both for me, for my family, and for my community."

As well as over 65s in Counties Manukau, older Māori and Pacific people being cared for by whānau, rest home residents and staff are also in group two alongside frontline healthcare workers. 

South Seas vaccination clinic in the old Manukau Institute tech building.

People at the clinic to receive a vaccination.  Photo: RNZ / Simon Rogers

South Seas Healthcare clinical director Dr Andrew Chan Mow was confident they would get through to the group with the right messaging reaching the community. 

"Messages are getting through that it is really safe. The more that we educate and vaccinate families the more we get the messages that it's actually safe to get a vaccine."

So far, 19,000 people are fully vaccinated and just over 71,000 people have received their first jab. 

The Ministry said about 6000 people were being vaccinated each day with the aim to hit 10,000 a day by the end of the month.