20 Oct 2021

Free coffee, kai with vaccine offered to Ara students in Ōtautahi

7:55 pm on 20 October 2021

Cantabrians are being warned not to take their foot off the vaccination pedal as the threat of a delta outbreak laps at the South Island's shores.

CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - 2021/08/25: Officials are seen at a vaccination centre in Christchurch.

Officials are seen at a vaccination centre in Christchurch. Photo: Getty Images

About 86 percent of residents have had their first Pfizer dose, just 4 percent shy of the region's target for Labour Weekend.

But with about 60 percent of Cantabs double-vaxxed, general practitioner and senior lecturer at Otago University Christchurch Dr Maira Patu said they need as many jabs in arms as possible - now.

"It's easy to get a bit complacent, when it's not here," she said.

"It's a fine balance of answering questions, not wanting to scare people, but really encouraging people to come and get vaccinated.

"The virus is coming, it will be in our community pretty soon. And so, if we want to be able to keep ourselves safe, keep our health system running and continue our lives than we need to be vaccinated."

Patu is the clinical lead at the MIHI (Māori/Indigenous Health Institute) team, which is offering walk-in vaccinations to students at the Ara Institute of Canterbury.

A slew of clinics are open at Ara's campuses in Ōtautahi and Timaru this week, to offer students easy access to the Covid-19 jab.

Ara's Te Tiriti Partnerships executive director, Te Marino Lenihan, said it's about people protecting people.

"Family wellbeing is our motivation, protecting our communities, protecting the future," he said.

"Letting them have freedom over the Summer and beyond, that's our motivation.

"And if our people are healthy, then our institutions are healthy."

Christchurch City Campus

Ara Institute of Canterbury's Christchurch city campus Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

Lenihan hoped the clinics will see a boost in the number of rangitahi Māori and Pasifica students fully vaccinated.

"We know that the youth of New Zealand were last on the priority list for the vaccination rollout," he said.

"So, there's a bit of a backlog of rangitahi Māori in the system. Add to that this generation of, you know, social media warriors, internet warriors, the proliferation of misinformation - there are a lot of barriers for our people.

"We just want to be friendly, we want to be present, we want our youth to be the face of this. It's for the youth, by the youth."

Dr Maira Patu said the Canterbury DHB has supported Māori and Pasifika health providers thus far in the vaccine rollout.

"For this next wave of the rollout, we're really looking for rangitahi to lead us," she said.

"We will bring the vaccine to wherever they want to have it and we'll have conversations and help with education the way that they want it.

"So, we'd really like to hand over this part of the rollout to them. We can bring the clinical service but it's them who are going to be vaccinated."

Canterbury health board manager John Carson said he's impressed with the massive uptake of students rolling up their sleeves for the jab.

"We're very pleased to see that students have taken up opportunities [to get vaccinated] all over the place and we're finding now that most students have actually had dose one and a lot of them are not quite ready for dose two, so that will come a little bit later."

As for ensuring the students vaccinated today come back after three weeks for that all-important second dose, Ara student voice co-ordinator Angus Howat - who's behind the free kai and coffee on offer - said more clinics are planned.

"So, if people have come for the first one now, they can come and get their follow up from somewhere familiar with friendly faces, people that they know already, that they've seen around campus and can trust a bit more than some strangers."

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