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Vaccines for hard-to-reach

Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson with Donna Gray, Joy Fitzgerald, Cedric Nepia, and the DHB vaccination team. PHOTO/JOY FITZGERALD

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With the region’s vaccination numbers edging closer to the 90 per cent double-vaccinated milestone, a community centre has hosted a vaccine pop-up for people who are difficult to reach.

Masterton mayor Lyn Patterson visited the DHB vaccine centre at Te Awhina Cameron Community House on Monday.

At its second pop-up of this nature, the centre targeted people, including gang members, which other initiatives might not reach.

The centre said that a good number attended the session for both first and second jabs.

Te Awhina is a community hub for programmes and activities. Co-ordinator Donna Gray said the centre provided a convenient and confidential space for locals and others to drop in and get vaccinated.

Although this was the centre’s last formal pop-up, Gray was happy to arrange informal vaccination sessions for interested people.

“If they want to come, we can make a date for them in the new year,” she said.

“It’s a good atmosphere here,” she said.

Cedric Nepia and Joy Fitzgerald helped facilitate the event.

“It was to offer the community privacy for a start and to have it on their doorstep. A lot of people know Te Awhina,” Fitzgerald said.

“People feel safe when they come here, and it was about making people feel comfortable.”

Nepia and Fitzgerald had been working alongside Mongrel Mob life member Harry Tam.

“He works with our hard-to-reach whanau, and a majority are our gangs,” Fitzgerald said.

Two of the people vaccinated at the pop-up on Monday morning were Nepia’s sons, 13-year-old Piripi and 15-year-old Rongomai.

Fitzgerald said there was still work to do to reach people but said there was a realisation that all people, including gang members, needed to be vaccinated.

“For us, it’s about our whanau; it’s about our kids and our kids’ friends,” she said.

Patterson said she had been pleased to attend the event.

“It was great to get the opportunity to call in and see the pop-up vaccination team continuing to do this important work out into the community,” she said.

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