About 87 border workers from Northport and Opua Wharf have been vaccinated today at nearby community based testing centres as the COVID-19 immunisation programme starts rolling out in Northland.
They included a range of people, such as customs workers, marine pilots, data entry operators and other staff who work on the border at Northport to screen/manage vessels arriving into Marsden Point.
Yesterday (28 February), 18 of the Northland DHB vaccination team gave and received the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to prepare for today’s rollout.
Around 300 border workers and 900 household contacts have been invited to receive the COVID-19 vaccination in Northland.
Marine pilot George Walkinshaw, who was the first border worker to receive the vaccine today, said he was doing his best to protect his family against COVID-19.
“I have grandchildren and they come to visit regularly. I'd be devastated if one of the kids contracted it because I didn't take all necessary precautions that I could to prevent this from happening.”
Chief Executive Dr Nick Chamberlain said the rollout of the COVID-19 immunisation programme in Northland was an important milestone in the fight against COVID-19.
“Our staff are putting in a huge amount of work to provide those at the border in Northland with the best protection against COVID-19.
“This is just the start of the vaccination rollout and we are confident that the system we have created is robust and efficient. We are really proud of our team, this is obviously a new situation for everyone, but it is incredibly important that we complete this first phase as quickly as possible,” Dr Chamberlain said.
For data entry operator Brooke Sneddon, having the COVID-19 immunisation provided an extra level of security in her work at the border.
“We've got the gloves and we've got the masks but it's also good to know that we are protected as much as we can be. Just takes a little bit of that worry out of coming to work every day,” she said.
As Northland DHB roll out the immunisation programme they are also focusing on strengthening the healthcare workforce that is authorised to vaccinate for COVID-19.
There are approximately 180 authorised vaccinators in Northland at this time and training is underway, delivered by IMAC, to increase the pool of COVID-19 vaccinators across the rohe - in the DHB, in primary care, Māori and iwi providers and pharmacies.
Northland DHB is working closely with primary care and Māori Health Providers to understand the complexity of delivering a rural vaccination programme such as this to develop a robust strategy for when the time comes to offer the vaccine to our greater population.
Avinash Murthy, operations manager at North Tugz, agreed that the vaccine provided additional protection to border staff working with international crews. For him, it was a simple decision to make.
“As a part of the whole team of five million, it’s just the right thing to do,” he said.
Murthy encouraged others to have the vaccine when it is offered to them.
“Go ahead and get it done,” he said.
Northland COVID-19 Community Based Testing Centres and Māori Health Provider Testing Centres have extended their testing centre hours this week.
Today, up until 2pm, 80 tests were taken across the rohe. Information about testing centre venues and times can be found at this link.(external link)
Please continue to follow the Four Golden Rules:
* Wash your hands
* Scan QR codes
* Turn on Bluetooth tracing on the NZ COVID Tracer app
* Stay home if you’re feeling unwell and get advice about a COVID-19 test.
Please look after yourself and others. Be kind to each other - For support with anxiety, distress or mental wellbeing, you can call or text 1737 to talk with a trained counsellor for free, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
National Update - 1 March 2021
There are no new COVID-19 cases in the community to report since yesterday evening when we reported the community case, Case O.
There is one new case of COVID-19 to report in managed isolation.
North Tugz Marine Pilot George Walkinshaw receiving the first vaccination
C3 Data Entry administrator Brooke Sneddon all vaccinated
North Tugz Operations Manager Avinash Murthy receiving his vaccine