The country's first vaccine buses have hit the streets of Auckland.
The initial three buses would be used around Auckland in areas where vaccination numbers were low or communities were finding it more difficult to access services.
The first buses, which have been loaned to the Northern Regional Health Coordination Centre, were blessed and sent out this morning.
The Shot Bro vaccination bus this afternoon pulled up at Countdown Pukekohe in South Auckland for its first stop.
The only dampener on Shot Bro's first vaccine drive threatened to be weather with sprinkling rain falling on those queued up.
Vaccination staff had set up beside the closed Burger King Pukekohe outlet.
Close to 30 people were lined up for shots from Shot Bro staff when the Herald visited.
Those wanting to be vaccinated were queuing on foot while staff in PPE gave shots to people seated on the concrete seats outside the fast food chain.
The vaccinated were then moved to another area to complete their 15 minutes observation time.
As vaccination staff prepared, Jay, who didn't wish to give his last name, was among the first in line waiting to be jabbed.
He had been booked in to get his vaccination this Sunday at the Park & Ride drive through Centre near the airport but when his wife heard about the mobile bus he jumped at the chance to get it done early.
"Going for a two-three minute drive down the road rather than a half an hour trip to the airport made sense," he said.
He also said people had been getting used to staying home during lockdown so it was easier to leave the house to go just a few minutes down the road.
And with the bus pulling up outside a supermarket he was able to pop in and grab a quick resupply of beer at the same time, he joked.
Leonie James was also queued you to be among the first to be vaccinated on Shot Bro.
She said the mobile buses were a fantastic idea.
She was getting her second shot after having her first about seven weeks ago.
Her second shot had earlier been booked at the local Pukekohe vaccination centre during the first week of lockdown but that appointment was cancelled when the vaccination center had to be temporarily repurposed to do Covid tests.
The earliest she could be rebooked was in a week and a half so she was excited to be able to get her second shot earlier today.
"I want to be fully vaccinated before going back out into the world and to work after lockdown," she said.
Her husband was fully vaccinated as a front line worker and she said it was good to feel safe with her double shot vaccination, especially as she had grandkids at home.
James also said it was a great idea to be able to combine a practical task like grocery shopping with getting the vaccine.
She had also donated blood just moments before.
Dolly Singh, a worker from the Countdown Pharmacy store, received her second shot today and was full of praise for the initiative. It had been four weeks since her first shot.
Twelve-year-old Brianna said she had some nerves before her first shot but hardly felt a thing while getting it.
Mum Melissa said she her daughter and partner saw the announcement about the bus on an earlier 1pm Covid press conference and jumped at the chance to get vaccinated.
"Jacinda has said to come get it today and so we came," she said.
Shot Bro was very convenient, "brilliant", she said.
The buses were unveiled at the Auckland Airport Park & Ride facility this morning.
The converted black and orange Park & Ride buses have vaccination signs on their sides. One reads "Roll up your sleeves, Auckland". Another says "Vaccinate for Auckland".
Labour MP Willie Jackson said the answer to boosting vaccination among Māori and Pasifika was to enlist the help of people from within those communities.
"Our people know our people," he said, adding he was pleased to see support at community level for vaccines.
"I'm really excited because we need to get out into these communities in South Auckland," he said.
Mayor Phil Goff said the aim was to get up to 80 per cent of Aucklanders having had one shot of the vaccine by the end of the week.
Although the current lockdown was the right decision, we couldn't rely on lockdowns forever, he said.
"We are taking the vaccine to the people."
South Auckland will be the first area targeted by the "Mr Whippy" style vaccination buses.
"It is about getting that vaccination level so high so that when we open our borders we have maximum protection," Goff said.
NRHCC vaccination programme director Matt Hannant said the three vaccination buses heading out today will operate like mini vaccination centres.
He also announced all vaccination centres were opening to walk-ins but asked anyone getting a vaccine from their GP or pharmacy to make a booking.
Hannant said under level 1 people would go onto the buses to be vaccinated and also spend the observation period onboard.
Under level 4 people will be vaccinated outside the buses.
Hannant said work was under way on the buses before lockdown but was delayed given the efforts to handle the current outbreak.
He said Shot Bro was a great name and thought the decision to take ideas for bus names helped get people involved in the vaccination.
Hannant said another popular name for the buses was Chariots of Pfizer.
Three more buses would be rolled out over the next weekend.
A chief executive of a local marae said the buses will help break down boundaries for South Auckland communities.
She said she supported the initiative and giving Māori the resources to "go mobile".
"We have been saying from the beginning we need to go mobile," she said.
Today the buses would be at Pukekohe, Papakura and Henderson.
The focus at first was around supermarkets and places where people are gathering under level 4.
When Māori health providers deploy the buses, staff able to speak Māori and provide cultural services also present.
The buses also aimed to reach older people and those with a disability who may have found it tough to get access to a vaccine.
Jackson said he was not surprised Māori vaccination rates were lagging given the complexities facing those communities.
But he was pleased with how that was "turning around".
He said creativity was needed to boost vaccination rates among younger people.
He said the anti-vax community wasn't large but made "a lot of noise".
Inside, the buses, seats are all still in place but the areas where luggage is normally stored now house vaccine supplies and equipment.
The number of buses available would increase to 12 in coming weeks.
Health Minister Andrew Little said staff on board would be able to explain to people why the vaccine was so important and hopefully overcome any hesitancy.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the initiative on Tuesday but since then things have taken a lighter turn.
She put out the call on Facebook yesterday for Kiwis to vote on their favourite names for the buses.
"Of course we're not competitive, but it did make us all wonder if we could come up with something better...so I asked for suggestions. Here's what people came up with, and now, it's your chance to vote! Tell me which one you like the best using the quick emojis below, and you may even see a bus with a new name out tomorrow."
The choices were Jabba Waka, Shot Bro, Jabbin' Wagon, Vaxi Taxi.
As of this morning, Shot Bro had a more than 4500 vote lead, with Vaxi Taxi a clear second.
The Jabba Waka sat third, and the Jabbin' Wagon last.