The second tier of the national vaccine rollout also includes about 480,000 frontline workers, people living in high risk settings, and older Māori and Pacific people and their carers.
This follows on from the start of national Tier 1 testing of Border and Managed Isolation and Quarantine Workers (MIQ) in February. As MidCentral has no international airport or MIQ facilities, the DHB was not expected to start vaccinating from that time, however, close civilian household contacts of Border or MIQ workers based at Linton Military Camp have been receiving vaccinations since March.
MidCentral DHB Chief Executive Kathryn Cook welcomed the start of tier 2 vaccinations and said the DHB had a clear plan and strategy in place for how the vaccine would be distributed through the rohe.
“We will be doing everything we can to ensure that anyone in our region who wishes to get a COVID-19 vaccination can do so, and we are committed to removing any barriers that may make it harder for people to receive it.
“Our focus for now is on protecting those at the highest risk of contracting the virus and that includes health staff in community and hospital settings, people living in long-term residential care and kaumātua and their whānau.”
Iwi and Māori leaders across the region were among the first to receive the vaccine during the tier 2 vaccine event at Palmerston North Hospital this morning. This is the first event and additional opportunities will be provided to vaccinate Iwi and Māori leadership and community members within their respective rohe. Ms Cook said in order to effectively roll out the vaccine to Māori, it was crucial to have the support of the iwi within the MidCentral rohe.
“We very much appreciate the support of iwi leaders and Māori health providers as we embark on the biggest immunisation programme in our country’s history.
“We are committed to honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and this approach has underpinned the planning process for the vaccine roll-out. We recognise that Māori are in the best position to determine how Māori communities should receive the vaccine, and it is imperative that we partner with iwi to ensure equitable outcomes for Māori.”
MidCentral DHB Chief Medical Officer Dr Kelvin Billinghurst said the vaccine is the most effective way to protect people from COVID-19. “There is good evidence that shows the vaccine is effective at preventing infection and emerging evidence for preventing transmission of the virus. The vaccine is safe and completely free for everyone in New Zealand.
We’re working with our health partners to provide a range of options to make it easy for our people to get vaccinated. This will include in community based clinics, mobile services and large scale venues.”
The first staff groups to be offered the vaccine from Thursday, 15 April are those at most risk of contracting the virus, such as Emergency Department staff, Public Health, the COVID response team, and General Practice and community pharmacy frontline staff.
The vaccination of the bulk of the population, who sit under Tier 4, is expected to take place from August onwards.
Chairman of Ngāti Kahungunu ki Tāmaki nui-a-Rua Hayden Hape receives his COVID-19 vaccine.
Ngāti Kauwhata leader Dennis Emery receives his COVID-19 vaccine from MidCentral DHB Nurse Educator Māori, Bonnie Matehaere.