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Would you like a vax with that?

Wairarapa’s first drive-through vaccination clinic has opened in Featherston. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Story by Soumya Bhamidipati

Wairarapa’s first drive-through vaccination clinic opened in Featherston on Thursday.

Covid-19 vaccinations are open to people aged 30 or over, with children aged 12-15 able to vaccinate with their family bubble.

Wairarapa District Health Board spokeswoman Anna Cardno said the DHB was working to ensure as many people were vaccinated as quickly as possible.

“A drive-through facility allows for people to stay as comfortable as they can, safely in their bubble, and maintain level 4 restrictions. It is also more people-friendly when it comes to our unpredictable weather patterns,” she said.

“Under level 4, people are having to queue in Masterton on foot and that is far from ideal. Sometimes the waits are long, up to hours, and it is taxing everyone’s patience.”

The DHB was also considering locations for a drive-through in Masterton, Cardno said.

Although bookings were still preferred, walk-ins were being accommodated. The booking system allowed the DHB to gauge the vaccine and workforce numbers needed each day, but with a relatively small population, it could also mean gaps.

“If we have space, we want to fill it with arms. The last thing we are wanting to see is gaps in the vaccination process,” Cardno said.

“We are taking walk-ins for two reasons really. The first is because people expect it, because they know it is happening elsewhere, and they are happy to queue for their turn. That may be because in lockdown they have time to wait. The second reason is because we will maximise every opportunity we have to use the capacity we have got.

“At the end of the day, our aim is to continue the great work Wairarapa was doing pre-lockdown where we led the country in terms of our vaccination numbers.”

Figures showed, as of Sunday, the total doses yet to be administered to meet the DHB’s target of 85 per cent of the population vaccinated was 37,486, while 47 per cent had received at least one dose by last Sunday, and 37 per cent were fully vaccinated.

Seventy-seven per cent of the target population aged 50 and over had had at least one dose, and 100 per cent of the target group aged 70 and over had been fully vaccinated.

Though the 30-plus age group had not been invited to vaccinate at the time of these figures, 34 per cent had already been vaccinated.

Vaccinations in Wairarapa are being offered at the Departmental Building in Masterton and the drive-through at Featherston Community Centre from Monday-Saturday, from 9am to 6:30pm.

The Tekau ma iwa clinic behind Whaiora in Masterton is open on Fridays and Saturdays.

  • Bookings can be made online at BookMyVaccine.nz or by calling 0800 28 29 26.

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