29 Jun 2021

Covid-19 vaccine: People in group three upset over 'unknown' rollout timing

8:15 am on 29 June 2021

While Wellington waits to see if the region will move back down to alert level 1, there is growing frustration from some older people over the speed of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout.

Covid-19 vaccination generic.

In the Wellington region, about 11,351 of the 200,000 people in group three have had at least one of the two doses. (File image) Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

So far, city-wide testing has not revealed any community cases of the virus after an infected Sydney man spent a weekend in the capital.

People are still urged to get swabbed if they show symptoms but anxiety about the virus and when the vaccine will be available is on the rise.

The small Kāpiti Coast town of Waikanae is a popular spot for pensioners. Almost 30 percent of people who live there are aged 65 and over - that means they are in group three of the rollout.

Vaccination for this group started in May but the official advice is to expect to get an invitation from your DHB by the end of July.

That includes this local man who is in his mid-80s.

"Waikanae is known as God's waiting room with all the aged people who live here."

He was feeling increasingly frustrated about what he said was a lack of information about the Covid-19 vaccine.

"What is happening, is nothing is happening and no-one knows what's going on.

"Amongst the older people there's a lot of comment and anger as regards of the unknown. With the unknown, it basically it scares people.

"If I was unlucky enough to get the virus, I'd be dead."

He said it was unfair and frustrating that friends of his in a Lower Hutt suburb of Eastbourne were now fully vaccinated.

"We are confused and upset and getting angrier by the day."

It was a similar sense of frustration for a 65-year-old asthmatic Wellington woman.

"I don't think there's been enough information. We're often being told in news articles that everything's hunky dory.

"But I haven't heard, I'm over 65 and have asthma. I phoned my medical centre and said, could they do a bit better informing us but I haven't heard back."

She had been struggling to get a clear timeline on when she would be able to get the vaccine.

"If we are told then we just accept it, you know, we've been treated as adults.

"I think it's probably more annoying than anything else that we're just not being told.

"It's as if we're having the wool pulled over our eyes.

"We can't really help that vaccines weren't delivered, but if we are told it's a bit more dignified for us, you don't feel quite so brushed off or lied to."

In the Wellington region, about 11,351 of the 200,000 people in group three have had at least one of the two doses.

GP clinics said they were being overwhelmed with phone calls from patients trying to find out when it would be their turn.

One medical centre in Waikanae had a recorded phone message telling people they cannot book vaccine appointments and will need to wait.

In Wellington, City GPs practice manager Lorraine Wood said they were doing their best to keep people informed.

"They are quite rightly concerned and they want to be protected and absolutely the government's promised that all these people in level three should be being vaccinated.

"So there's a lot of concern out there and it's quite right."

Wood said scaling up to do the vaccines was not going to be a simple matter for clinics when it did happen.

"The clinical oversight needs to be a lot more because there's concerns about people having reactions.

"And we're told that for every vaccinator then we should be having two clinical people and two admin people because the whole software side is separate to our normal practice management system.

"So then you're trying to run suddenly quite a big operation."

City GPs has not yet started its vaccination program and expects it will be sometime in July.

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