Prime Minister visits BOP vaccination centres

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the Rotorua Central Mall vaccination centre earlier today. Photo. Christel Yardley/Stuff.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is visiting vaccination centres in the Bay of Plenty today amid the current Covid-19 outbreak.

Ardern has been at the Central Mall vaccination centre in Rotorua and is now heading to Murupara to visit their vaccination site.

Ardern spent around 10 minutes at the Rotorua site, being shown around by staff and talking to some children at the site.

Nurse Pip King told the Prime Minister one of the common concerns they’re hearing at the centres is about social media misinformation and, increasingly, needle phobia.

Ardern says that the she found the Covid-19 jab a “far better” experience than her flu jab.

Te Arawa Covid-19 Response Hub iwi leaders have welcomed additional resource support from the Government to boost vaccination numbers.

The Hub was formed during the 2020 lockdown and includes more than 60 hapū, trusts, health providers and organisations, and its recent focus has been centred on improving Māori Covid-19 vaccination numbers across the rohe.

The Minister for Whānau Ora, Hon Peeni Henare, was also in Rotorua today and met with iwi leaders, seeing first-hand the mahi that the Hub has undertaken over the last 18 months, including vaccination education drives.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern with Ngāti Whakaue kaumātua Monty Morrison. Supplied photo.

“Today’s additional resources will help us to reach those most at risk, particularly whānau in rural communities and those not well connected to health services,” says Hub Chairman, Monty Morrison.

“Māori are over represented in statistics like poor health outcomes – it’s our priority to protect our whānau from COVID-19. We know people may be anxious about the vaccine and have questions, and we say to them: we are here to help – lean on us, hoea te waka ki uta ra.”

Project Lead, Karen Vercoe, says the Hub and its operational team have been working non-stop since the Prime Minister first announced the Alert Level 4 lockdown on August 17.

“One of our core priorities continues to be the support of the vaccination rollout and today’s announcement will help us deliver more opportunities for education and vaccinations throughout our rohe,” she says.

“This latest outbreak provides further evidence of the urgency required to get as many people vaccinated, at least with the first dose, as soon as possible.

“We are grateful to the Government to have been granted additional resources to help support this kaupapa in our race to protect all whānau.”

Ardern’s visit comes amid a call for as many New Zealanders to get vaccinated as possible over the coming weeks.

Yesterday the Government announced a nationwide vaccination day for October 16 as the Delta variant spreads across Auckland and the Waikato.

Vaccination rates in the Bay of Plenty are currently below the national average with uptake among the region’s Māori population among the worst in the country.

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