5 Jul 2021

Covid-19 vaccine rollout 'a DHB postcode lottery'

9:49 pm on 5 July 2021

The Covid-19 vaccine rollout in resthomes has been likened to a postcode lottery with residents in Nelson-Marlborough already fully vaccinated whilst others have not yet received their second dose.

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Photo: 123rf.com

Continued delays over vaccine delivery in some areas has also led to residents missing out on a flu shot while they wait.

Aged Care Association chief executive Simon Wallace painted a grim picture of the vaccine rollout in rest homes.

"We're in touch with our membership and we knew of a handful of resthomes in a couple of DHB regions last week where they hadn't yet started the first doses that's really concerning, we would expect this to be all done by now for what is a very vulnerable group of New Zealanders."

Latest numbers from the Ministry of Health showed 225,000 people aged over 70 have had their first Pfizer vaccine whilst just under 117,000 have received their second Pfizer dose.

Rest home residents and staff across the country are supposed to be in group two.

But Wallace said some resthome residents were frustrated to see some people in group 3 jump the queue.

He put that down to a DHB postcode lottery.

"We had some really good areas like Nelson-Marlborough was the stand out region, they had essentially completed all their vaccinations of staff and residents by the end of April."

But he said some other DHB regions had only recently started giving vaccinations.

But Northern Region vaccination programme spokesperson said the first doses for all rest homes in the Auckland metropolitan DHBs were completed about a fortnight ago and second doses will be completed in the next couple of weeks.

Wallace said if aged care homes knew the the rollout would take so long, they would have given flu jabs to residents sooner.

But as a cold snap swept across the country some have gone without.

Elizabeth Knox Home and Hospital in Epsom has just under 500 residents and staff residents were finally vaccinated last month - two months later then originally scheduled.

Chief executive Jill Woodward said the delays had been very stressful.

"We started off informing people in April it was going to start and getting consent forms completed, then just to go nowhere with it and unfortunately we were never told of a firm date, we never had certainty until just some days before the first vaccination took place."

Avonlea Rest Home facilities manager Vanita Feva said residents received their second Pfizer vaccine last Friday.

But not all staff.

"Some of the staff are quite hesitant to get it, then they're older staff who don't want to get it, they know the consequences that they might not be able to work with the residents face to face if they don't get it."

She said the case of an unvaccinated student nurse in New South Wales working across two hospitals whilst infectious had her worried about what might happen here if some of her staff were not immunised.

She had given them until the end of the month to book an appointment.

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