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The southern Covid-19 vaccine roll-out is at the end of the beginning.

Programme leader Karl Metzler and incident controller Hamish Brown have led the vaccination plan for the region and recruited a team which have got through most southerners in Groups 1 and 2 - border workers, frontline health staff and people especially at risk from Covid-19.

They are now embarking on vaccinating the two biggest cohorts - the 100,000+ people deemed as being at the most risk of getting very sick from Covid-19, and then the general population.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern receives her first Covid-19 Pfizer vaccination yesterday in...
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern receives her first Covid-19 Pfizer vaccination yesterday in Auckland. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
"We have always said it will be a marathon and there are still lots of things to be sorted out," Mr Metzler said.

"For example, how we handle schools is a strategic headache that we are dealing with now, but for now we know that it is a long road ahead and steady as she goes."

The Southern District Health Board region has been one of the best-performed in the country, consistently ahead of the Ministry of Health’s projected number of vaccinations.

Most of the structure needed to handle the imminent ramp-up in vaccination rates was almost in place, Mr Brown said.

"There is still more work to be done as we build to the peak we need to be at ... and we will be involving primary care and community pharmacy to help us get there.

"We have a workforce which is ready and willing to help us."

It is estimated that 43% of registered vaccinators in the region were now doing Covid-19 injections, so there were many more people who could be called upon when the time came, Mr Metzler said.

"We know they can’t wait to be involved and we’re really looking to getting them on board."

A crucial moment for the southern rollout had been Pfizer extending the shelf life of its vaccine, he said.

"That was a game-changer. We are the most dispersed region geographically in the country, so to have that 30-day period changes things enormously for us.

"We have massive logistics that somewhere like Auckland and Counties don’t have, and this has certainly eased things up."


Should she not be waiting until the older people have had their shots first, I thought that was the plan.



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