14 Jul 2021

'Patchy' vaccine rollout could spell danger for rural communities, GP says

11:45 am on 14 July 2021

A rural GP says the inconsistent vaccine rollout could put rural communities at increased risk with less available resources to help them during an outbreak.

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File photo. Photo: Facebook

New Zealand Rural GPs Network chairperson and rural GP Dr Fiona Bolden said the rollout for rural communities had been patchy.

There were reasonably good reports coming out of Northland, but parts of the South Island were not going as well and there was confusion over the roll out process, she said.

"When we think about where the vaccine is distributed to, there are some obvious areas that need to be covered early on like for instance South Auckland and areas where people are likely to be coming into from abroad," Bolden said.

"But the other thing to bear in mind is that, although people might think rural might be lower risk, a lot of people when they come in from overseas actually come to rural areas. So they come on holiday or they're coming to see some of the country ... so it's very important not to forget about rural."

Rural communities could be hit hard if they weren't vaccinated, she said.

"We have got less resources in terms of back up if things do go wrong.

"I think that if we don't get good coverage across the country in an equitable way, it will mean that we could have huge pockets of Covid-19 pop-up potentially in rural areas where they haven't got access to other resources to look after unwell people."

It could mean worse outcomes for rural communities, she said.

Dr Bolden also pointed out that it would be really difficult to practically manage an outbreak in a rural area.

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