13 Oct 2021

MP and GP, Dr Shane Reti helps vaccinate locals in Northland

From Checkpoint, 5:16 pm on 13 October 2021

A new Northland town has popped up as a Covid-19 location of interest.

The AA driver and vehicle licensing centre in Kerikeri is believed to be linked to the two Auckland women who travelled North with falsified documents, but they have not confirmed this.

Anyone who was at the Kerikeri AA centre between 3:15 and 3:45pm last Tuesday is being asked to monitor for any Covid symptoms over the next 14 days.

National MP Dr Shane Reti administering Covid-19 vaccinations in Ruakaka.

National MP Dr Shane Reti administering Covid-19 vaccinations in Ruakaka. Photo: RNZ / Nita Blake-Persen

The update comes as Te Tai Tokerau's records another day with no Covid cases - but the region may not be in the clear yet.

Northlanders have been turning out in droves to make sure the virus isn't spreading unchecked - and health teams are working flat tack while the region is in level 3 to get as many people swabbed and vaccinated as possible.

Today they were joined by National's deputy leader Dr Shane Reti, the former Whangārei MP in full PPE in the fight to keep Delta at bay.

He joined iwi health provider Kia Ora Ngāti Wai health for vaccines in Ruakaka.

"It's good to be back on the tools. It's kind of interesting - with one hat this morning I was helping compose policy and here I am today, now actually implementing it."

Covid vaccination rates in Northland are among the lowest in the country - 71 percent of people have had their first dose, and 50 percent have had their second.

Dr Reti said he is determined to improve those rates and will be heading out with Ki A Ora Ngatiwai's mobile vaccine clinics for the rest of the week.

He said there were several reasons Northland was behind the rest of the country.

"It's access to good information, it's access to services, there is some pushback to institutions and the nature of institutions - all of those things are surmountable with the right information and people with trust conveying that information," he said.

There were more than 20 cars lined up and waiting when the teams began their work around 10am.

Ki A Ora Ngatiwai clinical manager Sharon Russell said demand had been huge all week - one pop up clinic in Hikurangi vaccinated 50 people in one hour yesterday.

"People are really realising that we've had a close shave with reality, with Covid, and so people are really taking the opportunity to do their bit for Tai Tokerau and get tested and get a vaccine if they haven't had one already.

Ruakaka man 'H' was among those lined up for his shot - he works as a stevedore and while initially he was reluctant to get the vaccine, he'd changed his tune.

"Try to minimise for myself, for my family, for my workmates, and try to maximise for all of Aotearoa - as tangata whenua, we've got to try something.

He said he felt safer knowing he was vaccinated; "You know my lady friend got it so that gave me a bit of an opportunity to get it too".

Targeted testing to see if Delta has spread from the two women who visited Northland illegally is proving difficult as they refuse to disclose where they went on their travels.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins today said he was concerned that people who could have been infected and might be showing symptoms could be reluctant to come forward. 

He said any information obtained through contact tracing or testing, would only be used for the purposes of stamping out Covid.

"To those in Northland who may be reluctant to come forward because they don't want to be identified and they don't want the activities they have been doing to be identified, I want to provide an absolute reassurance; the most important thing they can do at this point is come forward and be tested."

There were 1800 swabs taken across the rohe yesterday - and vaccinations have had a big boost too.

At least 19,691 shots have been given in Te Tai Tokerau in the past seven days - more than double that of the previous week.