27 Aug 2021

Taranaki essential workers disappointed not to get vaccine earlier

8:04 pm on 27 August 2021

There were mixed feelings amongst essential workers finally able to get the Covid-19 immunisation at a mass vaccination event in New Plymouth today.

The TSB Stadium in New Plymouth set up for a mass vaccination event on 27/8/2021

The TSB Stadium in New Plymouth set up for a mass vaccination event. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

The Taranaki District Health Board is aiming to vaccinate about 7000 frontline workers over the weekend.

But some were not happy it had taken so long to make them a priority group.

Essential workers began pulling up to the TSB Stadium well before the clinic was due to open at 9am.

The first of three mass vaccination clinics in Taranaki this weekend it was fully booked with 2500 people set to get a Pfizer shot.

Operational planner for the vaccination programme in Taranaki Rachel Court said the decision to hold off on vaccinating essential workers up until now had come from higher up.

"Directives from the Ministry of Health were not there because we were not in level 4 and because of the vaccine supply earlier we had to navigate how much vaccine we used on [different groups] and where the appropriate use was, so the directive was at that stage not to use essential workers," Court said.

There was no magic bullet for a perfect vaccination rollout, she said.

"I think if I had my way we'd just to everybody as quickly and at the same time, but it just doesn't work that way. So, we do appreciate that there has been a lot of patience required by a lot of people, but we're just really happy to provide this now."

Operational planner for the Taranaki vaccine rollout Rachel Court says about 7000 essential workers will be vaccinated this weekend.

Operational planner for the Taranaki vaccine rollout Rachel Court says about 7000 essential workers will be vaccinated this weekend. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Caleb, who worked at Countdown The Valley, was being briefed ahead of getting his shot.

He reckoned essential workers could have been prioritised sooner.

"Ah well, it would've been nice if it was earlier, but it's good that we've finally got it, yeah."

Zoe Mace was waiting in the observation area.

The 17-year-old was another Countdown worker and she was on the same page as Caleb.

"It is a bit unfortunate that it's only happening now, but now we've got it so that's good and as long as we can keep up with getting those people vaccinated that's all that really matters."

Oil and gas worker Peter Van Den Beuken had put his career on hold because of the pandemic.

"I declined a few trips going overseas because I wasn't vaccinated. So, I'm not willing to leave the country without having the shots and I'm working in port so higher risk. And my wife is a nurse so I'm in her bubble and I'm old enough too."

He was happy enough to have waited for the vaccine.

"It's fair enough to be honest. You've got to start it somewhere, so there's always an order for these things. So this is the order and it makes a lot of sense. It's fair enough."

Colin Webber had come to get vaccinated with his 13-year-old daughter Imogen.

Colin Webber at the mass vaccination centre at New Plymouth's TSB Stadium.

Colin Webber at the mass vaccination centre. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

His wife worked at Taranaki Base Hospital.

He was not happy about the vaccination rollout.

"They've known the Delta variant for quite a while now and I think they should've really pushed to get people vaccinated especially the essential workers, frontline staff," Webber said.

"Yeah, I think the government have just dragged their heels a little bit on this and it's taken this outbreak to really sort of get them to pull their fingers out and get it done."

Imogen, meanwhile, was feeling reassured after having her first Covid-19 inoculation.

"Yeah, it's good to get it done. I feel a little more protected now against it."

Nationwide, 45 percent of those aged over 12 have now received a first dose of the vaccine, but only just over a third of Taranaki residents have received their first dose.

It is also the worst performing DHB when it comes to fully vaccinating the population - with only 18 percent now inoculated.

Another mass vaccination clinic will be held for essential workers at the TSB Stadium tomorrow and at the TSB Hub in Hāwera on Sunday.

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