9 Jul 2021

Dunedin clinic offering vaccination support for people with intellectual disabilities

7:38 pm on 9 July 2021

For some people with disabilities, getting a Covid-19 vaccine can be a confronting process - especially if they are hypersensitive to light, noise and crowds.

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.

Photo: AFP

A one-day community clinic in Dunedin has stepped in today to help people feel more comfortable.

Community Care Trust client David Martin King got his first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine this morning.

The clinic is being run out of the trust's building in South Dunedin which supports people with intellectual disabilities and autistic spectrum disorders across Otago and Southland.

He felt more comfortable being in a familiar environment, King said.

"I just trust people. Trust the professionals with this jab. lot more accessible to come down here, a lot more easy, less stressful to come down here."

King is also an advocate for people with learning disabilities.

He was glad they did not have to rely on going to the larger vaccination hubs.

"They'll be scared and confused how this system works without the right support without them going to those places. They'd be really unsure and not sure about the whole thing so for them, it's a different atmosphere, different scenery and they're not used to it. Here. They are used to it with the right staff."

The trust's independent living team leader, Michael Hawkins, said they were doing what they could to reduce people's stress including booking people in with their support person.

"It's more comfortable for them coming into a familiar setting with familiar people. Some people get quite anxious in public settings so, you know having a place where they're very familiar is ideal for them," Hawkins said.

That can also mean dimming the lights and closing the curtains so people who are hypersensitive to light and noise feel more comfortable.

The trust has provided transport to help some people with physical disabilities who may have trouble accessing traditional clinics.

"We know that people with disabilities are more at risk for diseases like Covid-19. So it's crucially important that they have the access to the vaccine, if they wanted it that is, so explaining the vaccine as best as possible to them is an important role for us in providing that access to them is also equally as important."

Trust client Neville Maxwell was sitting in the waiting room after getting his vaccine.

"I just don't want to get this virus that's going around."

Southern DHB vaccine rollout co-leader Karl Metzler said it had been a successful day with an estimated 150 people getting vaccinated.

They would roll out mass vaccination hubs and some smaller community clinics like the one at the trust, he said.

"But also for those particularly hard to reach people with disabilities, we will be able to parachute teams in and provide that individual service. We want to make sure obviously we get into every nook and cranny in the region and make sure if people want a vaccine that we are able to provide that regardless of setting or disability."

People can get their second dose of the vaccine in three weeks' time when the clinic reopens its doors.

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