A large Covid-19 vaccination facility will open in Whanganui's city centre next week.
The facility will operate from Wednesday, June 2, as the vaccination programme steps up to include people in Group 3. This group, which includes people aged 65 or over; those with relevant underlying health conditions; Māori and Pasifika aged 50 and over; and the disabled, represents several thousand members of the local community.
Relevant underlying health conditions for Group 3 include:
• Those who have a health condition that means they are eligible for a free flu vaccine.
• Those who have been diagnosed with severe mental illness (which includes schizophrenia, major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder or schizoaffective disorder), and adults currently accessing secondary and tertiary mental health and addiction services.
• Those who have poorly controlled or severe hypertension/high blood pressure (generally defined as requiring two or more medications for control, or not currently under adequate control).
• Those who are severely overweight (defined as a BMI ≥40).
People who are in Group 3 can phone 0800 888 479 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to make an appointment. If they prefer to be vaccinated by Te Oranganui, which is also running vaccination clinics for Group 3, they can call 0800 202 004.
The vaccination clinics are not a walk-in service. Appointments need to be booked by phone or email.
Some people will continue to be contacted by letter, email or text message to encourage them to get vaccinated if they haven't already made an appointment.
The vaccine roll-out in the Whanganui rohe (Whanganui, Rangitīkei and south Ruapehu) began on March 31. So far, 8296 doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been delivered at various sites, including Whanganui Hospital, aged residential care facilities and mobile outreach clinics.
Whanganui's Covid-19 lead executive Louise Allsopp said the progress of the roll-out varied between regions. Each DHB was taking an approach that worked best for its communities.
"Our vaccine roll-out is a massive undertaking. Group 3 is a large group so we will be flexible in how we work through this group, with some people prioritised ahead of others.
"There will be enough vaccine for everyone in New Zealand aged 16 and over, and we appreciate people's patience as we work to protect our community."
The local Covid-19 vaccine roll-out is being implemented by a governance body made up of Whanganui District Health Board (WDHB), Whanganui Regional Health Network (WRHN), Hauora ā Iwi, the National Hauora Coalition, Māori Health Outcomes Advisory Group (MHOAG) and Māori health services.
The aim is to give two doses of the Pfizer vaccine (with at least a three-week gap between the first and second doses) to more than 54,000 people in the Whanganui region before the end of the year.
The Pfizer vaccine, which has been through robust tests before being approved by MedSafe, is free.