3 May 2021

Covid-19: Clinic for vaccinations opens in West Auckland

12:17 pm on 3 May 2021

Auckland's latest mass vaccination clinic has opened in west Auckland after a blessing this morning.

The new Covid 19 vaccination facility in South Auckland

In the next few weeks, large clinics are due to open in Albany, Birkenhead and Westgate. File image Photo: RNZ / Simon Rogers

The community gathered at dawn for karakia and waiata for the centre, which is run by Te Whānau o Waipareira Trust.

The clinic, Te Whare Tūhono, is using the former Noel Leeming warehouse in Henderson. It is starting with some practice runs for the next few days, but will eventually vaccinate up to 1000 people a day.

Whānau o Waipareira Trust chief executive John Tamihere said alongside that would be a social media and web campaign, Vax to the Max, aimed at countering Covid-19 misinformation.

"On one level we do not denigrate, we do not demonise or victimise people that are choosing not to vax, but under no circumstances are we prepared to allow anti-vaxxers to either disrupt or sabotage those in our communities that are seeking vaccinations."

Waitematā District Health Board head Dale Bramley said the early focus for vaccinations in the city had been the south because of the large number of border workers there - but the programme is now spreading to other areas.

In the next few weeks, large clinics are due to open in Albany, Birkenhead and Westgate.

RNZ health correspondent Rowan Quinn was at the Henderson site during the blessing today. She told Morning Report at this stage, people still have to be invited to get the vaccine to go to the clinic.

"It's got all Covid signage around it and also Vax to the Max - which is a Waipareira campaign that has been started which is a website aimed at combatting vaccine hesitancy, so that's an initiative here so there's a lot of signage about that.

"They can see a Covid vaccination happening [via the website] and they can learn about what to expect when they turn up to something like this."

The general population vaccination roll out for those aged 16 and over is set to start in July, while people aged over 65 or who have underlying health problems are expected to get their first jab this month.

About a quarter of a million doses have been administered to New Zealanders so far, and as more people become eligible, the vaccine programme is being ramped up.

Training for vaccinators

The Immunisation Advisory Centre, which is responsible for training thousands of vaccinators, said the number of people who had completed the provisional vaccinator course has doubled since February.

Immunisation Advisory Centre national manager Loretta Roberts told First Up they were closing to having another 3300 vaccinators available, bringing the total number to 5000.

"These are additional vaccinators, so that's on top of our normal authorised vaccinators and our pharmacist vaccinators."

The criteria to become a vaccinator has been broadened to include the likes of occupational and physio therapists, dietitians, speech language therapists, paramedics, and dental therapists.

Roberts said the group would likely continue to grow.

"One of the things about giving vaccinations is you've got the ability to actually work with people and you're good at communicating with people, being able to give people the information they need but also reassure them.

"Most of these people have an underlying basic health level that they start with before they go on to their specialised area."

She said they were on target for vaccinating the tier groups according to plan.

"We've given about 250,000 doses already, so they are first doses. There are many, many people now getting their second doses as well, for those particularly frontline health staff as well as the border staff."

As the plan progresses, people in custody will also be eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine in group three.

Roberts said there were already health staff and authorised vaccinators available in Corrections' facilities to administer vaccines, and that pool of people had now grown.

"They have a very well-planned and robust programme to be able to deliver the vaccine to all those in Corrections."

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