SUP170921steelandtube.JPG Steel & Tube is encouraging its staff to get fully vaccinated by offering them $150. Photo / Supplied
A_WB240321HBDHB3 Nick Jones, Hawke's Bay DHB'S clinical director of population health, said it was vital to get as close to 100 per cent vaccination rate as possible. Photo / Warren Buckland
BYLINE: Sahiban Hyde
Taradale High School student Adam Gregory knew he wanted to lead the way when it came to his turn for the Covid vaccine.
Gregory, 15, became one of the region's first double-dosed youngsters on September 12, just three weeks after it first became available to his age group.
The Year 11 student is jumping on board with Hawke's Bay Today and NZME's campaign to lift vaccine rates in New Zealand to at least 90 per cent full vaccination against Covid-19 in our eligible population by Christmas.
By Thursday, 71 per cent of Hawke's Bay had received at least one dose of the Covid vaccine, and 37 per cent were fully vaccinated.
Seventy per cent of Napier and CHB residents have received at least one dose, 71 per cent of Hastings residents have received at least one dose, and 61 per cent of Wairoa residents have received at least one dose.
Adam said he had been following the pandemic "very closely" since last year.
"It's been terrible to read the statistics and see the reports on the news of how Covid has affected families overseas," he said.
"I felt like it was the right thing to do to protect my family and wider community."
Adam said his asthma allowed him to be vaccinated as soon as 12 to 15-year-olds became eligible and he decided to follow up with his second vaccine just over three weeks to the day.
"Both times I went through the drive-in vaccination clinic with my parents," he said.
"The experience was very straightforward and very friendly.
"I could hardly feel the injection both times. I felt very tired the day after my second vaccine but nothing I didn't expect.
"It was great when I got both doses because I had played my part."
He said others wanting to get the vaccine should do their own research, and "think of others".
New Zealand's leading steel solutions provider Steel & Tube, which has a Hawke's Bay branch with 26 employees, is also playing its part to get New Zealand to the 90 per cent level.
It's offering either $150 in cash, KiwiSaver contribution, or Steel & Tube shares to all employees who are fully vaccinated by mid-November 2021.
The company has a total of 850 employees and believes there are compelling reasons for all employees to get on board with vaccination.
Chief executive Mark Malpass said the company believed a fully vaccinated workforce would create a safer workplace for the team and customers.
"We've got an interest in having high vaccine rates so it's one way we can play our
part in helping accelerate the uptake."
Those employees who opt for $150 in Steel & Tube shares will receive the shares on market through Sharesies, Malpass said.
"Our ambition is to get the whole of Steel & Tube vaccinated and therefore we are doing all we can to encourage our team."
Hawke's Bay DHB's clinical director of public health, Nick Jones, said getting vaccination rates as high as, or close to, 100 per cent would help in controlling Delta outbreaks in the community.
"With Delta, the dynamics have changed," Jones said. "It's very difficult to control outbreaks just using contact tracing and lockdown alone. Lockdown for a long period is not sustainable."
He said if there were "pockets of unvaccinated" people in the community, the risk of the Delta variant getting into the community was very high.
"And groups with lower vaccination rates are also the people who would fare poorly in Covid outbreaks, so it's really important to not have pockets of unvaccinated people."
He said getting vaccinated was not just for the individual, but for those around them as well.
The importance of getting vaccination numbers accelerated across the nation has also been highlighted by University of Canterbury modeller Professor Michael Plank.
He is working with the Ministry of Health along with other researchers at Te Punaha Matatini on showing how quickly Covid-19 could spread once borders open and restrictions are lifted.
''The modelling shows that if vaccination rates are in the 70s or low 80s in the eligible population, a large-scale outbreak could still threaten our health service capacity and lead to tens of thousands of hospitalisations and thousands of deaths," he said.
''If we can get into the 90s, the threat will be much smaller and could be limited to a more manageable number of hospitalisations with some additional public health measures."
The scenarios come as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said this week the Government had no intention of using lockdowns long term against Covid-19.
New Zealand needs to get vaccinated now to beat Delta - and that's why Hawke's Bay Today and NZME launched The 90% Project on Friday.
Director general of health Ashley Bloomfield said New Zealand should be aiming to pass 90 per cent.
"We need to be at or above 90 per cent . . . and that is why we have geared up our system to make sure we can deliver to that level. This is mission-critical," Bloomfield said.