Frontline health workers and family members of border workers have received vaccinations to protect against Covid-19 in the Hutt Valley.
Since last Sunday, the Walter Nash Centre stadium in Taita has been turned into a temporary vaccination centre before the rollout moves to Upper Hutt on Friday and Saturday.
Te Awakairangi Health Network chief executive Bridget Allan said she believes the majority of eligible health workers in the city have been vaccinated.
Community nurse and Covid-19 vaccinator Patricia Kerr said she wanted to get the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to protect her family, the community she lives in and the vulnerable patients she cares for.
“I just wanted to make sure that I am safe for them to be safe and that was really important and to me. We’re part of history. We’re making sure that we look after ourselves to be able to look after the community,” she said.
“It’s a bit exciting, really, and quite a privilege.”
Laraine Koerbin said nurses were apprehensive about correctly drawing the medicine to begin with, compared to administering flu vaccines that come in individual doses.
“There is quite a process and you have to be very methodical going through it.
“Everything is double checked before it comes out and we take particular note of the times that it comes out of the chilly bin, it comes out of the fridge, by the time you draw it up, how much time you’ve used it within. So there’s all that before we start and we’re good to go,” she said.
Koerbin said the majority of people that receive vaccinations are thankful, excited and happy, but some have nerves about the process.
“Most people who are anxious first of all say, ‘I hate needles,’ and as I say to them, ‘Well, it would be very strange if you turned up here saying if you liked needles,’ and we all have that fear of needles… The other one is, ‘When will I get some protection?’ So 15 to 20 days you will get some protection. Studies have shown about 46 per cent, second dose, two weeks after, deemed to be the maximum protection, which is 95 per cent,” she said.
“Everyone just builds it up and it’s like, ‘What, have you given it?’” she said about how quickly the vaccination is administered.
Koerbin said nurses have been taking photos and videos on patients' cameras at their request to capture the moment.
“I feel quite privileged to deliver this. I feel that I’m part of history and one day my grandchildren may look back and, you know, talk about their grandmother. I don’t have grandchildren yet but will say we were part of the cause,” she said.
A more permanent venue will be used in Hutt Valley for the rollout in the future before tertiary institutions and other locations like general practices are introduced as places people can access the vaccine, Capital and Coast and Hutt Valley district health boards chief executive Fionnagh Dougan said.
“The preparedness at Hutt was really significant,” Dougan said about vaccines being rolled out in Hutt Valley before Wellington and Porirua.
On Sunday, 247 people were vaccinated and a further nearly 200 people have received the jab on average each day during this week.
“The capacity here is actually higher than that so as we are going into the larger rollouts we will be putting through higher numbers than that, I would expect,” said Te Awakairangi Health Network chief executive Bridget Allan.
“What’s been wonderful is that they have also been posting on their Facebook pages and encouraging people that this vaccine is safe and effective so that when we do roll out to the whole population, people will be reassured and encouraged to come,” she said.