The first fleet of Covid-19 vaccine buses hit the streets of South Auckland yesterday and got off to a solid start, according to vaccinators.
Nicknamed Shot Bro, the buses are the latest strategy by public health officials to reach the city's goal of having vaccinated 80 per cent of eligible Aucklanders with at least one Pfizer dose by Monday.
The buses are a collaboration with Māori and Pacific providers and the Northland and Auckland DHBs.
Northern Region Health Coordination Centre vaccination programme director Matt Hannant told Morning Report those on the first bus out yesterday for half a day vaccinated about 150 people.
"The buses can probably do about 200-to-300 per day per trip," he said.
"We're just sort of going to see our way through that one. These are less about high volume and more about reaching into communities where there might be some access challenges or transportation issues. This is about taking the vaccine to the people."
Information on low vaccination rates in areas is helping to direct focus on where the buses are sent. However, there had been some concerns expressed that not enough information was being provided to those operating the buses to find those people needing vaccination.
Hannant said work was being carried out urgently to ensure that information was readily available.
Efforts would be ramping up over the next few weeks with the roll-out of more buses.
"We've got three buses out on the road today. Then we're going to be building up to 12 over the coming weeks."
The vaccination procedure would change according to alert levels over the coming months, but at the moment, strict adherence to alert level 4 protocols was being observed.
"It's a bit different under level 4," Hannant said. "So at the moment, the buses are all kited out inside. It has a little area were you do the drawing up of the vaccination and under level 1 you sit in the bus and have your 15 minutes observation period at the back of the bus.
"But because we're at level 4 and we've got to have all the right protocols in place everything is done outside.
"So only the mixing and drawing up of the vaccine is done inside and then it's administered outside, with people queuing socially distanced. We have garden chairs where people sit for their 15 minutes observation."
Shot Bro a winner
The sight of the buses with the logo Shot Bro had raised smiles, the inspiration of Napier woman Jules Cunningham.
"I think it's really amazing to see how it's captured everyone," Hannant said. "We've got some really cool names coming forward. We have more vehicles going to hit the road soon so just watch this space and we'll have lots of different names soon."
Cunningham woke up yesterday not expecting to see photos of the mobile vaccination clinics with her idea for a nickname displayed on the front.
Earlier in the week, she had posted her suggestion on Twitter with a graphic she had made of a vaccine bus in the style of Mr Whippy, only with a giant syringe on the roof.
Not before long, hashtag 'Shot Bro' was trending.
In a Facebook poll posted by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, it got over 16,000 votes, beating out competitors Jabba Waka, Vaxi Taxi, and Jabbin Wagon.
"I muck around in Photoshop a little bit and tend to make up the odd meme and that sort of thing and through them around Twitter and have a bit of fun," she told Morning Report.
"And the brief was it was kind of Mr Whippy ice cream truck kind of thing, so I slapped a big siringe with a flower on top of it and looked at it... and 'shot bro', it just fell into my head."
She said many people had contacted her after the logo was revealed, with others she was aware of taking photographs beside the Shot Bro bus to post on social media showing they'd received their jab.
"It's really inspiring, everyone has gotten behind it...There has been so much pressure around the whole Covid situation that we're in and I'm always trying to find ways of making something positive out of it."