Ashburton health workers plus some elderly and vulnerable people are at the front of the covid vaccination rollout in Mid Canterbury.
Some 520 front-line health workers in doctors’ surgeries and at Ashburton Hospital were vaccinated in an eight-day effort earlier this month and now a smaller community clinic is operating from Ashburton’s Life Pharmacy.
It is the only pharmacy in New Zealand delivering covid vaccinations on its pharmacy premises.
The pharmacy clinic is for health workers, those working in rest-homes, and Maori and Pacific people over 70 and the people they live with. The pharmacy also has a waiting list of people keen to get the vaccine if spares are available.
The vaccine comes to Mid Canterbury unfrozen in sealed packs and must be used within three days. There are five vials per package and six doses in a vial. Once the vaccines are drawn up, they must be used in six hours.
Hospital manager Berni Marra said the vaccines were being ordered regularly, based on the national booking system, and everyone involved was doing their best to make sure none were wasted. So far, none have.
There was an element of stress in making sure none were wasted, she said.
Ms Marra, Life Pharmacy owner Rachel Eaton and Eastfield Health business manager Tony Dann gave Ashburton District Councillors a run-down on the rollout and the customised plan for Ashburton.
Ms Marra said the next stage of plans for how the vaccine would be rolled out in the district to the over 65s and then everyone else were still being worked on.
Clinics around the district, some mobile, would depend on numbers to be vaccinated in different areas.
People who book on the national booking system can select where they want to go for the injection.
Mrs Eaton said there was no shortage of people wanting to add their names to the waiting list. The elderly and vulnerable were being prioritised if any vaccinations became spare.
She said the campaign locally had resulted in the strengthening of relationships between the district’s health workforce.
The only struggle had been dialling in to the national booking system, which was overloaded because so many people were calling in.
Mr Dann said an online booking system had initially been used but was paused after a data breach.
He said that when the vaccine was rolled out to groups three and four, people would call the national booking line when they wanted to get the vaccine.
“We do not know how many centres will be in town but people will be able to go to whichever centre they want.”
The booking system will help predict how many doses were needed and sent to Ashburton.
Around Canterbury, almost 50,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered.
People in group three (over 65s) and group four (general public) will be notified when it is their turn to have the vaccine.