Waikato towns are gearing up for Super Saturday, the Government's national day of action to get 90 per cent of Kiwis vaccinated in time for the Christmas break.
There will be lots of special events throughout the region encouraging everyone to get the jab, including prize draws, pop-up centres, drive-throughs, extended hours, food, music and entertainment. There will be 66 sites across the region where people can drop in without a booking and get vaccinated on the spot.
For a list of activities and places where to get vaccinated and informed this Saturday click here.
The Chiefs Rugby Club is throwing in 1000 free tickets to the Gallagher Chiefs first 2022 Super Rugby Pacific home match at FMG Stadium Waikato. To enter, people visiting a selected vaccination site will just need to scan a Chiefs poster QR code and enter their details to be in to win.
The vaccination sites offering the competition are: Morrinsville Vaccination Centre - Campbell Hall, Knox Presbyterian Church, Whakamaru School, South Waikato Drive-thru - Tokoroa Events Centre, Thames Vaccination Centre - Goldfields Shopping Centre, Cambridge Community Marae, Te Awamutu Community Vaccination Clinic, Anglican Action in Hamilton, The University of Waikato, The Base Shopping Centre, Melville Skate Park and Warehouse Hillcrest.
Details of other activities and vaccination places in Waikato can be found on the Waikato DHB website and Facebook page.
Waikato broke another record yesterday with the 500,000th vaccine delivered at Taumarunui Community Kokiri Trust Community Vaccination Centre and over 70,000 Waikato Māori now have their first vaccination.
Currently, 77.9 per cent of the Waikato population have received their first dose and 57.6 per cent are fully vaccinated. On Wednesday, 6328 vaccinations were delivered across the region.
Waikato DHB engagement manager Gemma Morgan says despite the region staying in alert level 3, the DHB was still gearing up for Saturday with safety measures like health screenings, distancing and masks in place.
Waikato Covid-19 vaccination programme lead Maree Munro says Super Saturday is a chance for the whole community to put their combined weight behind the vaccination effort.
"Getting higher numbers [of] fully vaccinated [people] is going to make a major difference in how we deal with Covid-19 in the community.
"It should reduce the need for lockdowns and give us more opportunity to get out and about."
Munro says there was a real buzz in the community around Super Saturday with schools, marae and churches hosting vaccination clinics, community leaders and local groups helping with promotion, and businesses offering prizes and free food. Local radio stations also jumped on board to help encourage people along on Saturday.
Morgan says the key message the DHB wants to get out is that the day is not only about getting the jab.
"We are also aware that some people still have questions about being vaccinated and this day is a great opportunity to come in for a no judgment chat, without any pressure of getting vaccinated."
Hamilton West MP Dr Gaurav Sharma as a former GP is fully behind Super Saturday and will even be putting his white coat on again to give the vaccinators a hand.
"I heard [deputy leader of the National Party] Dr Shane Reti will be doing vaccinations in Whangārei for Super Saturday, so I thought it's a good idea that I get in there too. I will be vaccinating at my former practice Avalon Medical and intend to pop into some other vaccination clinics to help as well."
Hamilton East MP Jamie Strange says he hopes to see a spike in the number of vaccinated people after this Saturday.
"If people haven't been vaccinated yet, I encourage them to go to one of the clinics this Super Saturday. The more people are vaccinated, the faster we can move back to normal - which is what we all want."
Because of level 3, he says his options of going out and about are limited.
"So we will be active on social media and keep phone calling the community like we have been doing recently. We ring people up and ask if they need support and point them in the right direction."
Hamilton mayor Paula Southgate says she is fully supporting Saturday and very pleased to see her city climbing up the ranks from place 12 to place seven in the national top vaccinated towns ranking.
"But we need to push forward. My challenge is to make Hamilton the most vaccinated town in New Zealand ... Now that we are still in level 3, we need to support Super Saturday even more and have to get behind the goal of [it]: to radically raise our vaccination numbers.
"So, I urge Hamilton to go and make the most out of Super Saturday. Take a friend or family member out of your bubble with you, talk to the medical specialists. They are so nice and doing such a great job."
Waipa mayor Jim Mylchreest also encouraged residents to use Super Saturday as an opportunity to get their first or second dose of the vaccine.
"Each of us has a part to play in protecting our community and getting vaccinated – so get down to your vaccination centre in Cambridge or Te Awamutu."
In a video address to residents, Mylchreest said Waipā District needed to come together and get vaccinated and challenged the district to live up to its moniker.
"[It would] be great if Waipā Home of Champions had the highest vaccination rate across the country."
Kakepuku ward councillor Susan O'Regan also voiced her support for Super Saturday.
"My younger kids want to see their friends again and give their grandparents a huge hug. My older ones want to go to music gigs and 21st birthdays over the summer.
"Without widespread vaccination, these simple things won't happen. Get it done and we can get back something closer to normal again."
Hauraki mayor Toby Adams is also on board urging Hauraki residents to take part in Super Saturday and setting his district an ambitious target.
"Let's go, Hauraki. Let's get that vaccination rate up! Figures show that 47.2 per cent of our population [are fully vaccinated].
"That's pretty good, but I'd like to see Hauraki have the highest rates in the country. That will protect our communities so people can get back to normal and our local businesses can operate throughout the usually busy summer months. So, take advantage of Super Saturday."
National's agriculture spokeswoman Barbara Kuriger understands farmers and their staff have been busy with calving and lambing, but this season is now coming to an end.
"[So] now is the time for them to ensure that they and their families, as well as their staff, are protected."
She says that many of the rural industry sectors have been devastated by the challenges of Covid-19, especially tourism and hospitality.
"And there is no end in sight. I want to encourage everyone to find an event near you [on Saturday] and get the ball rolling for you and yours. It's the only chance we have at the moment, to get our lives back again," Kuriger says.