Rural Southland nears 90% target

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    AS of the start of the week, 92% of the Southern District Health Board’s (SDHB) eligible population had received their first Covid-19 vaccination dose.

    While Invercargill was doing well on the whole, with Rosedale ranked the number one area in the country on uptake, wider Southland had some catching up to do as of Wednesday last week.

    The Unite Against Covid-19 website updates its statistics each Wednesday afternoon; rural Southland appeared to be nearing the 90% vaccination target, with Ohai-Nightcaps sitting lowest in the region on 77% having received the first dose.

    The national average on uptake was 89.5%, and 2156 areas were used as a ranking tool – Ohai-Nightcaps sat at 2012.

    At the start of the month, Gore Mayor Tracy Hicks and Southland Mayor Gary Tong toured 24 rural communities in a push to get more people vaccinated against Covid-19.

    Almost 400 doses were administered: 192 were first doses (48.4%) and 205 second doses (51.6%).

    Mr Tong said he knew many rural people were flat-out with farm work and did not have time to travel to get vaccinations, and so they wanted to make it easier for people to get jabbed.

    On Tuesday, Federated Farmers released a checklist to help farmers plan and be prepared for Covid-19.

    The agri-sector and Ministry for Primary Industries initiative involved a checklist for farmers so they could tick off preparation readiness in terms of personal well-being, and everything someone coming on to a farm would need to know should key people have to go into MIQ or hospital – right  down to dogs’ names and where their food was.

    Available on the Federated Farmers website, the tool was developed by other groups which helped put it together: DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, NZ Pork, Deer Industry NZ, Poultry Industry Association of NZ and the Egg Producers Federation of NZ.

    Federated Farmers national board member and employment spokesman Chris Lewis said it was only a matter of time before there were more positive cases of Covid-19 turning up on-farm.

    “Distance from health and other facilities, workforce shortages and the need to continue to look after animals and crops raise all sorts of complications.

    “As DHB Medical Officers of Health will be making the decision on whether it’s practicable for a farmer or key farm staff member to self-isolate on the farm, evidence of pre-planning and preparedness will be an important factor.”

    In a Federated Farmers-hosted webinar, SDHB Medical Officer of Health Dr Michael Butchard emphasised being double-jabbed was the “very best defence” if a farmer or key team member who tested positive sought to self-isolate on farm.

    on the farm would weigh heavily on MOH staff as they made “case by case” decisions on how and where isolation would happen if someone tested positive.

    Immunologist and Otago University Associate Professor James Ussher told the webinar a double-vaccinated person had a 75-80% lower chance of being infected with the virus.

    “If you don’t get infected, you can’t pass it on to other people. So it’s about protecting yourself and protecting others.”

    • Vaccination data from www.covid19.govt.nz
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