Awesome to see more than 130,000 New Zealanders step up and get vaccinated on Super Saturday. If you were one of the 5115 Northlanders who received a dose, thank you for putting our community first.
Thanks also to the health workers, volunteers, sports teams and local businesses who helped make the day so successful. Every member of the team I met was so positive: from 9am until 8pm, the enthusiasm and warmth of welcome never waned.
It's been a huge team effort to get to where we are now, with more than 3.5 million people – or around 85 per cent of eligible people – with at least one dose.
With Friday's announcement of the traffic light system, we can see how getting to our target levels of vaccination is the key to getting back to doing the things we love. Sadly, Whangārei and Northland have further to go than most, with only 78 per cent of our DHB population having had their first dose, while Auckland is already over 90 per cent.
It's up to us all to make the choice to be able to do more of what we love, see the people we love, and protect those who can't be vaccinated. We know that the vaccine is highly effective if people have both doses, so if you do catch Covid-19, you're far less likely to fall seriously ill and less likely to pass the virus on to others. That's why we need as many Kiwis vaccinated as possible, ASAP.
If you haven't managed to get your first shot yet, please don't wait any longer: get yourself fully protected in time for summer. Book online at bookmyvaccine.nz or by calling 0800 28 29 26, or there are plenty of drop-in clinics all over town. Check out covid19.govt.nz to find one close to you, or call your pharmacy to see if they take walk-ins.
If you've had your first dose and are waiting for your second, you might be able to bring it forward. You can get that second dose three weeks after your first one, so consider changing your booking online or try a walk-in centre. Just please do cancel your original booking, so someone else can take that spot.
Once you're fully vaccinated, you can still help us reach our target. Chat to people you know who aren't yet vaccinated to reassure them, or offer some practical help – a lift to an appointment or babysitting – to make the choice easier.
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Helping out on Super Saturday, I met so many nannies, aunties and mums who had rounded up their teenagers and young adults and given them that extra bit of encouragement and a (compulsory) lift to the clinic.
Every extra person who gets vaccinated in Whangārei is another protection, so every conversation and nanna intervention makes a difference.
Some people are still a little hesitant. It's okay to have questions, but it's really important to get reliable information. Covid19.govt.nz has accurate, evidence-based information, along with advice from medical experts.
Alternatively, check in with your GP, or the nurses at the mobile buses and other clinics are always happy to stop for a chat.
We're all longing for a good summer: whānau Christmases, music festivals, camping holidays and beach trips. So let's help each other get there by getting vaccinated. It's up to us.
• Emily Henderson is the electorate MP for Whangārei. She can be contacted at Emily.HendersonMP@parliament.govt.nz.