A mobile clinic aiming to "bring vaccinations to the people" focussed on Northland's Pacific community during a visit to Ōkaihau.
The service, which is operated by Kaikohe-based Te Hau Ora O Ngāpuhi and St John, sees a team of nurses and social workers travel to isolated areas of the Mid North to vaccinate people with mobility issues or no transport.
It also calls into workplaces to offer jabs to staff who can't get to a clinic during working hours.
as well as carrying out home visits, the team set up in Ōkaihau's community hall and worked with Pasifika health and social services provider Fono to get word out to the town's large Tongan community.
Falesiu Fotu, a whānau resilience kaimahi (worker) for Fono, was busy driving people to the hall.
"We go to their homes and pick them up, as long as they choose to get immunised — and they do. They love to help themselves and others."
Friday's walk-ins included Margaret Sowerby, of Horeke, who was booked to get her second jab in Taheke in two weeks' time.
However, when she saw a notice about the pop-up clinic she seized the chance and got it done earlier.
"My mum is immune-compromised so I just want it done as soon as possible. I don't like needles but I'm vaccinated for all the normal childhood things, so it's a case of suck it up and get it done."
The Ōkaihau pop-up clinic was held on the same day the Advocate and its sister publications launched The 90% Project, which aims to get at least 90 per cent of New Zealanders vaccinated against Covid-19 by Christmas.
A major focus of the campaign will be ensuring that under-represented communities, including young people, Māori and Pasifika, get the same protection as all New Zealanders.
Te Hau Ora o Ngāpuhi chief operating officer Tia Ashby said the response to the mobile service had been "fantastic".
They had also extended the opening hours at their clinic at 113 Broadway in Kaikohe to 9am-7pm after feedback from workers who couldn't get into town during the day.
Before heading to Ōkaihau the team stopped at a trucking firm south of Kaikohe to carry out Covid tests as required under new rules for essential workers crossing the Auckland border.
Ashby said many testing stations were open only during work hours, which wasn't suitable for truckies who were on the road all day.
A week earlier they visited Ōhaeawai and vaccinated another 30 people there.
Ashby said the organisation worked with the district health board's public health unit to identify areas where uptake was low.
"We're not just throwing a dart at the map," she said.
Before arriving in an area staff engaged with "local champions" to help get the word out. They also put up posters and used social media.
In Ōkaihau they enlisted Fono as the local champion.
Wherever they went they also made sure they had at least one fluent speaker of te reo to put older people at ease.
Registered nurse Kuini Daniels, of Kawakawa, said if someone's first language was Māori she would greet them and converse in te reo, only switching to English for technical terms around vaccination.
"They respond really well to that," she said.
Northlanders had also responded well to the mobile clinic.
"Some whānau don't have cars or they're disabled and it's just hassle to get into a clinic. Last week we had a kuia who had to carry an oxygen tank around everywhere. It was just much more convenient to go to her place."
Ashby said the hardest groups to reach were Māori and people aged from their teens to 30.
Reasons varied from buying in to anti-vax campaigns on social media, lack of transport, and lack of information. She had even encountered a few people who didn't know what Covid was.
Some young people said they felt Covid wasn't a danger to them or they didn't like needles.
Ashby said the mobile clinic not only improved access to vaccinations, it also brought health services to areas where it was most needed.
"If people aren't coming in for vaccinations, they're not coming for other health concerns like cardiovascular disease and diabetes," she said.
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