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Wairarapa reaches 90%

GRAPHIC/STOCK.ADOBE.COM

A cautious celebration of milestone

Wairarapa has reached a significant public health milestone, with 90 per cent of people across the region now fully vaccinated.

Wairarapa DHB confirmed on Friday that the crucial mark had been reached, Wairarapa being the first non-urban DHB in New Zealand to do so.

South Wairarapa was the first district to get there earlier in the week, with Carterton shortly afterwards. Masterton was a few hundred doses behind.

The numbers also showed 95 per cent had at least one dose.

Maori were 79 per cent fully vaccinated, with only 721 second doses needed to reach 90 per cent.

Leaders across the region celebrated the news.

Wairarapa MP Kieran McAnulty said it was a significant accomplishment.

“It is an amazing achievement. We are the first rural area to do so,” he said.

“The fact we are 95 per cent first-vaxxed is an equally stunning effort.

“It would be so easy to hear all the noise from a loud minority and assume that New Zealanders are not behind the vaccine drive. But the numbers speak for themselves.

“A huge thank you must go out to all our health workers, our community groups, and volunteers from every corner of the region who all pitched in to get our numbers to this point.

“Vaccination rates like this mean we are in a strong position to protect ourselves, limit the spread of covid, and protect lives and livelihoods. What a way to head into Christmas,” he said.

Wairarapa District Health Board chief executive Dale Oliff was thrilled with the news.

“It’s the best Christmas present yet,” Oliff said.

“I am delighted. The high uptake comes as a great relief for our community leaders and health workforce. I am extremely proud of all the staff that have been central to this success.”

Oliff said a fully vaccinated Maori population was looking more achievable due to a considerable effort from iwi leaders and providers, and dedicated staff.

She cautioned people against complacency and urged them to follow standard public health rules.

“Covid is set to dominate our lives for a long time yet, but the 90 per cent fully vaccinated achievement was a critical part of the support net, and it is excellent to see it achieved this side of Christmas,” she said.

All three mayors commended the success but advised caution.

Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson said vaccination was one of many ways people could help fight the virus.

“The vaccination rate is very encouraging – it shows that most people are taking this virus very seriously. But I would like to see the percentage go above 90 per cent,” she said.

“With the arrival of Omicron, we are now faced with the need for boosters. I would encourage everyone eligible to get the booster and continue to do everything they can to protect themselves, their whanau, and the wider community.”

South Wairarapa Mayor Alex Beijen said high vaccine rates were key to operating without restrictions.

“Vaccination is not about taking rights away but about giving us all the freedom to access what we need as a community, without restrictions. I hope our ‘rapa residents yet to be vaccinated understand how crucial it is to get fully vaccinated.”

Beijen said with the arrival of an Omicron case in MIQ, it was only a matter of time before there were community cases.

“It is very timely that Wairarapa has reached this milestone. I am extremely proud of my district – well done to them all. And remember to get the booster shot too. Kia kaha,” Beijen said.

Carterton Mayor Greg Lang said it was welcome news.

”The higher the rate, the better the protection is for yourself, your family, your neighbour, your community, and its economy,” he said.

“It is great news that many in our community have now had both of their vaccinations, allowing them to enjoy the summer safely.

“It remains important that we continue to show kindness to all, no matter what decisions different people in our community make about vaccination.”

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