Covid-19 vaccinations for some Northlanders has been brought forward to reduce waste and increase the availability of the vaccine.
A little more than 200 vaccines were administered at Kaitaia Hospital on Tuesday, and a similar number was expected yesterday, others receiving their first shots in Whangārei, Kaikohe, Kerikeri and Dargaville.
All will receive their second dose no less than 21 days after the first.
The programme covers those who are in Group 2 (including kuia, kaumātua and their whānau, people they live with and their carers, frontline and other healthcare workers), and originally those over the age of 75, which late last week was reduced to 50. Anyone who qualifies can book an appointment, or simply walk into any vaccination clinic.
Vaccinators will go to aged care facilities to immunise residents there.
Northland DHB chief executive Dr Nick Chamberlain said the Ministry of Health's Covid-19 vaccination sequencing framework was flexible. but those who had had their flu vaccinations would have to wait two weeks before having their first Covid-19 jab.
"Understandably, people want to have their influenza vaccination first, because if they choose to have their Covid-19 vaccination first it would be some five weeks before they could have their Covid-19 immunisation," he said.
"This has reduced the number of people eligible for Covid-19 vaccination now, so the Northland DHB is offering anyone who is 50 years and older the Covid-19 immunisation to minimise the risk of vaccine waste."
The Covid-19 vaccine was extremely precious, and to date only 0.0005 per cent had been "wasted" in Northland.
The age composition of Northland's rural communities was another factor that had influenced the decision to offer those aged 50 years and older the vaccination now.
"It is not efficient to provide a small age group cohort with the immunisation, so again, to reduce waste and increase the availability of the Covid-19 vaccine, the Northland DHB is offering the vaccine to anyone 50 years and older," Chamberlain said.
"Our Māori and Pasifika population who are over 50 have significant and often multiple health conditions, hence they are much more vulnerable to Covid-19, and they get these conditions at least 15 years earlier than other populations. We cannot let Northland lag behind the rest of New Zealand in yet another health statistic, and this is the best way we can ensure that doesn't happen."
Where to get the jab
The Far North Covid-12 clinics are at:
Kaitaia Hospital (nurses' recreation hall, off Worth St) - Tuesday (10am-5pm), Wednesday (10am-5pm) and Saturday (9am-2pm) next week.
Kerikeri (old Placemakers building, Sammaree Pl) - Thursday (midday-7pm), Saturday (9am-2pm), Wednesday (10am-5pm) and Thursday (midday-7pm) next week.
Kaikohe (St John, Raihara St) - this Friday and Friday next week (10am-5pm both days).