After five months of being one of the major vaccination sites in the Horowhenua, Berrys Pharmacy at the Horowhenua Health Centre is looking at how it can expand its reach.
The vaccination team have been kept busy with a high volume of bookings and noted an increased demand during our most recent lockdown.
"[However] that demand is dropping off now," said Lynette Wolfenden, community and special projects pharmacist at Berrys, "and we're noting more hesitancy among certain age groups."
The Government has acknowledged there is still work to be done with young people as well as Māori and Pasifika to increase vaccination percentages among those groups.
With this in mind, local iwi reached out to Te Waiora Community Health Services in August to provide vaccinations for whānau in Shannon and Foxton.
Level 4 lockdown restrictions and the need to boost available resources saw Te Waiora's community clinical nurse Desiree Paul pull together a team of staff from MidCentral's primary health organisation Think Hauora to help deliver a series of drive-through Covid vaccination clinics.
The events at Foxton Loop Restaurant & Bar (the old RSA), and a pop-up vaccination clinic at Te Waiora in Shannon, were open and closed with karakia and run in collaboration with whānau and hapū.
Paul said there was a lot of aroha and appreciation shown by the communities to the teams who delivered the vaccinations.
"Whānau were very grateful for our services, especially seeing how hard we worked when we vaccinated 276 people in the rain. We even had a total stranger go home to collect all his Tornado wet weather gear and gifted them to us to keep us warm and dry."
Berrys Pharmacy has been in contact with MidCentral DHB to find out the protocol regards approaching local colleges to offer to run vaccination clinics for its students during school hours.
"We've been seeing a lot more college-aged youth coming in with their parents [for vaccinations]," said Wolfenden, "but we appreciate sometimes that isn't possible so we want to be proactive in offering the opportunity to those [who want to be vaccinated]."
Sue Black, one of Berrys Pharmacy's accredited vaccinators, has noticed increased hesitancy from the under 40s, with lots of questions being asked and obvious misinformation being sourced.
"We're happy to explain the mechanisms [of the vaccination process] and make sure people have the correct information about what's in the vaccination," she said.
How the vaccination was administered also contributed to some hesitancy. A woman in her 80s, who was petrified of needles because of a childhood incident, needed extra support and options to enable her to get the vaccine.
Paul, from Te Waiora, agreed it was doing what worked for people to make them feel comfortable getting their vaccinations.
"People felt holistically cared for right from the start [of the vaccination events], from being culturally welcomed to our settings. Our kaimahi were consistently communicating with whānau, keeping everyone well informed of the process," she said
The Te Waiora/Think Hauora combined vaccination team proved themselves to be agile and resilient, strongly putting the needs of the local communities at the centre of the health service delivery during the lockdown.
The whole team involved are pushing forward to vaccinate as many of their populations as possible against Covid-19. The second round of vaccination clinics is due to begin this week at Te Waiora Foxton and Shannon.
"Our whānau [are] particularly happy to be receiving their vaccines within their own backyard, reducing travelling time and costs," said Paul. "[They feel] more at ease and reassured to receive their vaccines amongst their own community."
Berrys Pharmacy also reached out to local businesses to offer in-house vaccinations, appreciating many would struggle to accommodate their staff taking time off to go to another site to get vaccinated.
"We've had a great up-take on our offer," said Wolfenden. "We've also been able to spend time talking with those employees who've had concerns or queries [while at the workplaces]."
Wolfenden said Berrys is happy to talk to Levin community groups who may want to organise centralised vaccination events as well. Inquiries can be made by phoning 06 367 3644 ext 1 or emailing email@example.com
Meanwhile, Paul is looking forward to working with the teams from Te Waiora and Think Hauora again to support the Foxton and Shannon communities to come back and receive their second Covid-19 vaccinations.
"Our Whānau Tautoko Kaimahi … were champions in supporting [our first] events to get organised and delivered within short timeframes. I can't thank all of them enough. Two teams become One - Kotahitanga and Manaakitanga at its finest," she said.
• According to the Ministry of Health, as at 11.59pm October 3 2021, Horowhenua was ranked 34th out of 66 regions for vaccination rates – fully vaccinated 45.2 per cent; one dose only 26.3 per cent; unvaccinated 28.5 per cent.