Islanders line up for first jab

    Long-time Stewart Island resident Peter Tait was one of the first to receive a Covid-19 vaccination at New Zealand's southernmost clinic last week.
    Stewart Island resident Skyla Mill receives her first Covid-19 vaccination at New Zealand’s southernmost Covid-19 vaccination clinic.

    A SOUTHLAND woman never thought she would be one of the first people in her family to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

    Former Gore woman Skyla Mill (19), moved to Stewart Island from Christchurch about six months ago to work in the hospitality sector.

    She believed she would still need to wait a few months to be immunised, but was delighted when she received her first jab at New Zealand’s southernmost Covid-19 vaccine clinic at the island’s community centre last week.

    A crew travelled to the island to carry out the vaccinations, which finished on Monday.

    Ms Mill believed she was one of the youngest at the vaccine centre and said her family was proud of her for choosing to be vaccinated.

    “I’m a bit nervous but, at the same time, so excited. I have a sister with disabilities so this jab means I can be more comfortable around her when I travel back home,” she said.

    “Many young people think they don’t need to be vaccinated because they were not in any risk group.

    “My parents are proud of me to take this step, to help stop the spread of the virus,

    Peter Tait has lived on the island for more than 50 years and was one of the first in line to receive the first dose of the vaccine.

    When news broke of a potential case on the island last month, his daughter, who is a doctor, wanted to fly him to Auckland so he could get immunised.

    “I’m very happy to have it done.

    “From the little I know, most people [on the island] are in favour of it. I heard one that was bit cautious and he was there today. So I hope everyone takes it up.”

    Once he got his second dose he would be much happier, he said.

    “At my age, being in a vulnerable group, it is good to feel safe.”

    More than 80% of Stewart Island’s eligible residents had at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine at the two-day clinic.

    About 257 people were vaccinated at the clinic and a further 52 people from there had received their vaccination elsewhere.

    Awarua Whanau Services clinic lead Nadine Goldsmith was happy with the turnout.

    “We’re thrilled that so many people embraced this opportunity to get vaccinated in their own community and we got a lot of positive feedback that residents were very pleased we came to them.”

    A second-dose clinic would run on the island on August 18 and 19 to ensure residents were fully vaccinated.

    However, staff highlighted anyone who was unable to get their first dose last time, could also get a jab at the second clinic.

    Southern District Health Board Covid-19 vaccine rollout incident controller Hamish Brown congratulated the team and the Rakiura/Stewart Island community for the clinic’s success.

    “This is a really positive response to the programme and we are very pleased that the local people took the opportunity to protect themselves and each other, particularly as a place that is popular with tourists.”