Eastern Bay of Plenty Covid-19 vaccinators welcome hundreds

6:54 am on 22 July 2021

Eastern Bay of Plenty health workers are aiming to make whānau feel welcome and comfortable as hundreds of people stream through the doors each week to get their Covid-19 vaccine.

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The reception area at Māori health provider Te Puna Ora o Mataatua. Photo: Supplied / Te Puna Ora

So far, more than 15,000 vaccinations have been administered in the subregion - about 21 percent of the target population.

Māori health provider Te Puna Ora o Mataatua was dishing out about 120 doses of the vaccine each day at its Whakatāne clinic.

Clinic lead Kelly Gavin was among those meeting and greeting whānau at the door.

Once someone had their vaccination, they were taken to a seated observation area where biscuits and cups of tea were on offer.

"It's almost like a family reunion down there sometime, you can have upwards of 20 people sitting there. It's got a good vibe to it, we've got music playing in the background," she said.

"We want our whānau to feel safe and feel comfortable. We just want them to relax."

Whakatāne resident Sunshine Biddle was among those hanging out in the observation area at Te Puna Ora's clinic.

She was already fully vaccinated and was there to support her aunty.

"I didn't even feel it. I was a bit anxious about getting it because I don't like getting injections, but it was sweet as."

Using local vaccinators beneficial

Te Puna Ora chief operating officer Lee Colquhoun said having locals as vaccinators made people feel at ease.

"As soon as they see the face they feel comfortable, and they can go from there."

Gavin said the hauora aimed to answer any questions about the vaccine, including organising a nurse to visit marae or iwi to host question and answer sessions.

"We're all about making sure that our whanāu are making an informed decision, versus doing something they've been told they need to do," she said.

"If that means people just coming in and we sit down and have that conversation, then we're all for that. If people decide then and there they don't want to do this, they're more than welcome to walk away, think about it and come back."

Kelly Gavin from Te Puna Ora o Mataatua running a Covid-19 vaccination clinic

Kelly Gavin speaks to a woman who is about to be vaccinated. Photo: Supplied / Te Puna Ora

Across town at the Bay of Plenty District Health Board's vaccine clinic, Whakatāne resident James Reri was sitting in the observation area, eating a biscuit and sipping tea after getting his second dose.

"With the things that are happening now, we need to be proactive in doing this stuff. I think it's safety for everybody else too."

Fixed ideas an issue

The Bay of Plenty DHB's Rachel Shouler is leading the rollout of the vaccine in the Eastern Bay.

She accepted that some people just won't take the vaccine as they have fixed ideas about it.

"But then I think there's a section of the community sitting on the fence, wanting more information, wait and see how it goes. Hopefully they fall on the side of accepting it."

Shouler believed only people who want the vaccine would turn up to the vaccination clinics.

She said it is important that other health services, such as general practices, had information about the vaccine on hand for those who might want to know more.

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