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Vaccination drive for Eketahuna

Eketahuna hosted its first covid-19 vaccination clinic on July 24. PHOTO/FILE

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More than 300 Eketahuna residents will line up to receive their second dose of the covid-19 vaccine later this month.

Residents who missed out on their first dose at a rural outreach clinic last month could also register to receive it at the second clinic on August 21.

Eketahuna Health Centre committee chairwoman Adrienne Dempsey said the first clinic at the Eketahuna Community Centre on July 24 had been well attended.

However, she said the health centre had only received confirmation of the clinic two weeks ahead of time.

The centre had to wait for an access code so residents could use the Ministry of Health’s ‘Book My Vaccine’ website.

“Until you get allocated that code, you cannot advertise your covid-19 vaccination clinic,” Dempsey said. “That held us up a little bit.”

Once the health centre received the code, nurses started phoning residents to fill as many of the 400 spaces as possible.

“They would have been ringing around every day for two weeks … we even had our accountant ringing people.”

Seven staff members completed 66 hours of overtime in the lead-up to the clinic.

Dempsey said MDHB had provided funding for the extra work.

Eketahuna’s vaccination centre. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

The health centre had aimed to put a message about the clinic in the school newsletter, but confirmation had only arrived at the end of Term 2.

The Eketahuna Information Centre published a newsletter advertising the clinic, and notices were displayed around town.

Health Centre staff helped residents who had no access to computers, booking vaccination appointments on their behalf.

MDHB covid-19 vaccination programme iwi and Maori lead Adele Small said the Eketahuna clinic was a success.

“We heard from those who attended how important it was to protect themselves and their whanau from covid-19,” Small said.

Kaumatua and kuia Warren and Everlyn Chase had encouraged residents to book their vaccinations and connected them with staff at the Health Centre.

Everlyn had previously worked at the health centre, and Warren was on the executive committee.

“We know quite a few people in our town, as with most small towns where everybody knows everybody,” Warren Chase said.

“Our role was as kaumatua for our town and to support our whanau who would otherwise find it difficult to get vaccinated.”

He said a good representation of the community took up the opportunity to get vaccinated. Some people who were hesitant before last month’s had since told him they would like to get vaccinated at the August 21 clinic.

Chase had received his first dose at the July 24 clinic.

He said getting vaccinated was less about his safety than it was about protecting anyone he came into contact with in the future.

“We are really proud that our people took up this opportunity to protect themselves and their whanau from covid-19, and we look forward to an even bigger turnout on August 21.”

Four hundred doses of the vaccine had been allocated for the clinic – enough for about a quarter of the residents of Eketahuna, Nireaha, and Alfredton.

Dempsey said MDHB staff administered 306 vaccines, of which about 30 were walk-ins who had not previously booked their vaccination.

Ministry of Health guidelines said clinics needed to actively minimise wastage of leftover vaccines by planning a backup or standby list. Any wastage would be recorded in the covid-19 immunisation register.

By the time of publication, MDHB had not confirmed the number of wasted vaccines.

MDHB covid-19 vaccination programme senior responsible officer Debbie Davies said plans were in progress to establish more rural vaccination clinics in the MidCentral territory.

According to the Ministry of Health website, nearly 70,000 vaccinations had been administered in the MDHB territory by July 25, while almost 2 million doses had been administered in New Zealand by August 2.

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