18 Jun 2021

Wellingtonians over 65 wait anxiously for vaccine

6:54 pm on 18 June 2021

There is still some frustration and worry amongst over-65s in Wellington as they wait to be called up for their Covid-19 vaccine.

Capital and Coast DHB said it was ahead of schedule with its overall vaccine roll-out but only a fraction of the over-65s group had received it.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern sat in a white plastic chair in the corner of Manurewa Marae in Auckland to receive her first shot.

It was all over within seconds - a rolled up sleeve, a precisely administered injection and, we're promised, a smile under face-mask.

"It's really true when they say it's actually pretty pain-free."

RNZ has been inundated with messages from people in Category 3 - which is mostly made up of over-65s - who are still waiting to hear when they will be vaccinated.

Marie, 74, from Karori was one of them - she also recently had pneumonia. She said her community was on anxious stand-by.

"I know that other older people in my community are a bit concerned about when it's going to happen for them."

Capital and Coast DHB said it was 20 percent ahead of its vaccine roll-out plan across all eligible categories, but that was small comfort to Marie.

Further clarification on when she will get her injections would give her and her age group peace of mind, she said.

"Maybe I could have had a message a little bit sooner to say 'this is what you need to expect'."

A nurse takes vials of Comirnaty vaccine by Pfizer-BioNTech against Covid-19 out of a fridge at the Baleone vaccine centre in Ajaccio on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica, on May 13, 2021.

File photo of the Pfizer vaccine. Photo: AFP

Another Wellington resident was worried for her elderly parents.

"My frustration is with the DHB, rather than the government response. It seems other regions are more advanced.

"I'm worried about my parents not being vaccinated when a lot of younger people are.

"I'm also about to go to Australia to visit my daughter and booked tickets thinking I'd have had at least one jab by now, so I'm a bit concerned about travelling."

A Tawa resident in her 70s said many people she knows in their 90s were struggling to find out when or where they will be vaccinated.

"I'm concerned for quite a lot of people I know in their 90s who have not had any contact.

"A 93-year-old I know told me she tried to register online but has had no feedback or response.

"The medical practices in Tawa don't seem big enough. The nearest centre is Porirua and my thinking is that they are a higher risk community, so it makes sense they are prioritised. I'm not panicking but we would like some understanding of when it's going to be."

The Capital and Coast DHB figures show that just over 4 percent of Group 3 - the group predominantly made up of over 65s - have had their first and second vaccine jab.

It said it was taking a staggered approach and aimed to be in touch with the 200,000 people in this group by the end of July.

The Ministry of Health does not have data for other DHBs broken down by groups one, two and three but its cumulative data across all eligible groups show most DHBs are ahead of schedule.

Ardern told reporters that she had her injection three months before her age-band was eligible because she needed to be a good role model.

"I never wanted to be amongst the first. For me, we needed to get those front-line workers. But I also need to be a role model and demonstrate it is safe, that it is effective and that it's really important that everyone's vaccinated when they have their opportunity."

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