Vaccine drive proves popular

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    MORE than 80% of the eligible Pasifika population of Invercargill is fully vaccinated against Covid-19 after the city’s first drive-through vaccine clinic on Saturday.

    The Southern District Health Board’s (SDHB) Covid-19 vaccine rollout team and Awarua Whanau Services ran the clinic at ILT Stadium Southland.

    Data released by the SDHB showed 223 vaccinations were administered, 50% of those being first doses.

    SDHB Covid-19 vaccine rollout programme lead Karl Metzler was also pleased as, of those vaccinated at the drive-through, 23.8% were Maori and 4.5% were Pasifika, bringing the total first-dose rate for Pasifika in Invercargill to 94.7%, and 81.1% for fully vaccinated.

    Awarua Whanau Services general manager Amy de Vries said as it was the first drive-through clinic, the team did not have any expectations.

    The Maori and Pasifika communities had been “first and foremost” the focus, but everybody was welcome, she said.

    The team was delighted with the numbers and the huge effort they achieved.

    “It was about testing the waters and seeing what happened.

    “We are super stoked about having 223 doses delivered in a day- absolutely.

    “People seemed very happy to be there.”

    A walk-in clinic delivered on average 200 doses a day, so the results of the first drive-through one were very positive, she said.

    Mr Metzler said while the board did not have any specific plans for a further drive-through clinic in Invercargill at present, it continued to look for opportunities to reach vulnerable and hard-to-reach communities.

    Meanwhile, Gore and Southland mayors Tracy Hicks and Gary Tong have started the second leg of their Farmgate Tour, which aims to increase vaccination rates in rural communities.

    About 400 vaccine doses were administered on the first tour earlier last month.

    Mr Tong believed many people would take up the opportunity throughout the week.

    “I’m pleased to be able to give another opportunity for people in rural communities to be vaccinated.

    “With the new traffic light system, people will need to be vaccinated if they want to attend events, so I believe the numbers will keep steady.”

    The tour finishes tomorrow.

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