14 Sep 2021

Auckland vaccine programme director hopes for record-breaking week

6:26 am on 14 September 2021

A record 220,000 Aucklanders could be vaccinated this week but it would take every available bit of capacity in the system.

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A drive-through vaccination clinic at the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga. Photo: RNZ / Mariner Fagaiava-Muller

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern wants as many people as possible in Auckland to get a dose in what may be the last week at alert level 4, telling those with bookings for later to move them forward.

Anthony Jordan, clinical director of the vaccination programme for the city's three district health boards, told RNZ he wanted to break their previous record of 190,000 vaccinations a week, set earlier in the outbreak.

Their capacity was about 220,000, he said.

"On our peak day, which was the third of September, we delivered over 31,000 vaccinations ... and we did that comfortably," he said.

He would love to do that every day and there were plenty of options to deliver, with a handful of drive-through centres, 13 large community centres, 130 GPs and 40 pharmacies, he said.

They would have to all be cranking to get the job done, he said.

Auckland GP Api Talemaitonga said it was the perfect chance to protect Aucklanders.

"While we're in level 4, there are no schools open, most of us are working from home, you haven't got things to do in the city or elsewhere. Go and get vaccinated," he said.

The Tongan drive-through centre that vaccinated nearly 4000 people last weekend was a perfect example of what worked and the DHBs must be proactive about reaching everyone, he said.

Dr Jordan said they were in the final stages of organising mobile vaccination units.

They would go street to street offering Covid-19 vaccinations in areas where there may be low coverage or where people may be struggling to get to a clinic.

"People have talked about music to tell them - like a Mr Whippy van - that we're coming down the street. But it will actually be about proactive communication with those communities about when we're there, similar to some of the pop-up sites we've done," he said.

GP Matire Harwood helps run a drive-through vaccination centre at Papakura Marae which has been reaching 200 to 300 people a day.

She said the call to get as many people injected as possible this week was great but clinics like hers needed more resources.

She was keen to build on the momentum she had observed as more and more people saw their friends and families vaccinated and wanted one too.

It all came back to access.

"I still hear the struggles and the challenges of booking the vaccine, so I really encourage people to take advantage of the walk-in and the drive through clinics so you don't need a booking," Dr Harwood said.

If the system does hit its maximum, and depending on the number of first and second doses given, more than 80 percent of the 1.4 million eligible Aucklanders could have had at least one dose by this time next week.

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