The Te Moana a Toi Bay of Plenty vaccination programme started today with 28 workers at the Port of Tauranga receiving the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
Huge efforts have been put in by the Port of Tauranga, associated Port companies, Ngāti Ranginui as the principal port testing and vaccination provider, and the Bay of Plenty District Health Board taskforce in organising to get vaccinations underway today.
The vaccination teams will be onsite from 11am to 4pm Monday to Friday.
Bay of Plenty DHB Covid-19 response manager Helen De Vere said the first day had gone well.
"It has been a very positive first day, with everyone involved appreciating how significant this effort is in keeping our community safe."
De Vere added she was proud of all involved.
"I would just like to say how immensely proud I am of everyone involved and to be a part of this team. It has been a huge logistical effort involving a lot of people going above and beyond to get us to where we are now.
"I want to thank everyone for meeting this challenge head-on. Doing so, helped ensure we were in a great position to start the vaccination programme today."
The preparations have included site visits to Port of Auckland to discuss learnings taken from its rollout; testing processes including patient walk-throughs and dry runs of other systems alongside the Ministry of Health and ensuring a large staffing pool has been assembled.
Question and answer sessions with a panel of clinicians was also held last week for all port workers and their whānau to answer any questions or address any concerns.
Covid-19 vaccinations were being made available to border and MIQ workers as a means of added protection against the risk they encounter as part of their workplace duties.
Vaccination was strongly encouraged to protect them and the people they live with, the DHB said.
"The broader picture of all of this of course is that we're doing the very best we can to protect our communities from the threat of Covid-19," added Helen.
The Covid-19 vaccination rollout programme was organised according to a priority system that would eventually progress from frontline/most at risk to vulnerable populations and ultimately the wider community around June/July this year.
Bay of Plenty DHB has organised an online webinar for this Friday at 6pm, to provide an opportunity for whānau of Port workers and anyone else seeking guidance, to be able to put their questions to the country's lead vaccination experts, Dr Rawiri Jansen and Dr Nikki Turner.
Details would be posted on the BOP Health COVID website www.covid19.bopdhb.govt.nz and Facebook pages as well as the Bay of Plenty DHB online platforms.