On Thursday this week, Covid-19 vaccination buses started operating around Auckland, providing mobile clinics to service those harder-to-reach parts of the community.
Whanganui was a step ahead of our biggest city, launching its health bus – 'Waka Hauora' – on Monday with a pop-up clinic at the Silver Fern meat processing works in Waitotara.
Whanganui's vaccination bus is provided by the Rob Bartley Foundation which acquired the old library bus from Whanganui District Council and fitted it out as a multi-purpose mobile clinic.
The late Rob Bartley, a hugely-respected Whanganui businessmen and community supporter, was the inspiration for this travelling health facility which will be a great asset to the DHB and others.
The introduction of mobile clinics shows that the vaccination drive has entered a new phase.
We have had the initial rush of those eager to do their bit to protect themselves, their whānau and the community.
Now we have to focus on those who may have difficulty accessing a vaccination site.
Waka Hauora – the Health Bus will have an important role taking the vaccine to the community. It will be used at workplaces, beachside locations, schools, rural areas and elsewhere – and will be available for our iwi providers to make use of.
The 90% Project, launched by the Whanganui Chronicle and the wider NZME media company, is a great initiative and comes at just the right time.
The Delta strain community outbreak which put the country into lockdown last month emphasises the need for us to step up the vaccination programme.
We are running clinics right across the Whanganui rohe and we have capacity and vaccine, so we are asking people to make a booking and get vaccinated.
And if they need the vaccination team to come to them, they should call the district health board on 0800 888 479.
Vaccination is one of the most important tools to protect our community from Covid-19.
Getting large numbers of our community vaccinated will provide the safety and assurance that we can ease restrictions and move the country down alert levels.
• Russell Simpson is Kaihautu Hauora / Chief Executive of the Whanganui District Health Board