Saturday is the day. Roll up your sleeves. Get a mate to vaccinate.
From Cape Reinga to Bluff, from Mahia to Clive, Napier to Wairoa, Hastings to Havelock North, Waipukurau to Waipawa and all the little settlements in between, people have been gearing up for Super Saturday. As the outstanding staff at our Hawke's Bay DHB say: ū tonu – keep going.
There are some fantastic events in the works for our national day of action on vaccination. From the high-tech sophistication of an Air New Zealand Boeing 787 Dreamliner, to the down-home basics of a mud-covered DoC Toyota Hilux, businesses and organisations are getting on board.
Hats off to Air NZ, converting its quarter of a billion dollar-plus aircraft into a vaccination clinic at Auckland Airport.
Shots will be delivered in Business Class, observation and recovery happens down the back in Economy! The Department of Conservation has offered up 4WDs and even boats in rural and remote areas to help transport people to vaccination clinics.
I don't know much about needles but I can handle a pair of BBQ tongs and I'll be helping with the barbecue at the stunning Pukemokimoki Marae in Napier, one of the drive-through clinics on the day.
For Super Saturday to be successful, this is what we need – all of us getting on board and doing what's best for our community, and helping and encouraging others to do the same.
Sports stars, actors, health professionals, many familiar faces are throwing their weight behind the vaccination campaign.
We'll have general practices, pharmacies, community providers all vaccinating throughout the day. We've got 100 additional vaccination sites around the country, like pop-up vaccination sites at farmers' markets and sporting events. Many of our existing sites are offering extended hours.
Our goal here is very clear: get New Zealanders vaccinated. What does success look like? It looks like more Kiwis getting the protection of the vaccine. Whether you can help convince one person or 15 people of the importance of being vaccinated, that is success.
At first glance, we have much to celebrate so far with our vaccination rates in Hawke's Bay. But a worrying and stubborn pattern remains. Many people have still not had a single dose.
For example, Napier City, Hastings, Wairoa and Central Hawke's Bay district are doing okay with their rate of double vaccinations. They sat at around 55-58 per cent of the eligible population by the middle of this week. The national rate is 59 per cent.
But 21 per cent of the eligible residents of Napier have not had a single dose – that's more than 11,000 people. In Hastings, 21 per cent are completely unvaccinated, that's 14,500 people. In Wairoa, around 30 per cent, or 1800 people, are unvaccinated. In Central HB, 22 per cent or 2600 are yet to have a single dose.
The Delta strain of the virus that arrived from New South Wales is a disease of the unvaccinated. It is putting much higher numbers of the unvaccinated population into hospital and intensive care units, and some need respirators to help them breathe. Don't let that happen to your loved ones, friends, workmates, or yourself.
There is a bright spot around the corner. It's called summer.
Many holiday events and festivals and even ordinary businesses like bars and cafes will increasingly ask for proof of vaccination before letting you through the door or the gate. If you want to take part, the window is closing. To be fully immunised by Christmas, you need your first vaccination this month.
If you can't make it along to Super Saturday, it's still really easy to do: book online at bookmyvaccine.nz or call the Covid-19 Vaccination Healthline on 0800 28 29 26. Some vaccination centres don't even require a booking – you can simply turn up and get your shot when it suits you.
It will help all of us get back to doing the things we love, with the ones we love.
Stuart Nash is Napier MP.