Calls aim to boost groups’ vaccine coverage

Nine new part-time staff have been hired to call unvaccinated Maori and Pasifika general practice patients in the Southern region offering to book their Covid-19 vaccinations.

The move is part of work to support vaccine uptake.

The staff, working from primary healthcare provider group WellSouth’s call centre, have been contracted to make outbound calls.

WellSouth associate Maori health strategy and improvement officer Peter Ellison said it wanted to make it as easy as possible for people to get the vaccine and would help book them in at any provider that was convenient — whether a GP, pharmacy, a Maori or Pacific health provider or one of the bigger vaccine clinics — at a time that best suited their needs.

The new staff were making the calls between 5.30pm and 8.30pm weekdays.

Taking a whanau-centred approach, the team would offer to book in anyone in the household over the age of 12, so households should not receive multiple calls, Mr Ellison said.

WellSouth chief executive Andrew Swanson-Dobbs said the group worked to ensure equity of access to all health services, which was vital for the Covid-19 vaccination programme as well.

‘‘We want to see vaccination rates for Maori and Pacific Island populations, as well as other priority populations, leading the way in the district.’’

If the country was to get 90% of those eligible vaccinated this year, it was important to exhaust every avenue to reach unvaccinated populations and remove barriers to access.

Southern was among the top-performing districts for the vaccine rollout; the distributed delivery model that used GPs, pharmacies and Maori and Pacific health providers, along with pop-up and drive-through clinics was the reason more than 75% of those eligible had had at least one dose, he said.

Rates were not as high for the Maori and Pacific communities and WellSouth was working with them to address the gap.

Calls would continue as long as there were people to call or recall for vaccinations.

Maori and Pasifika people could also call the centre to book on (03)260-7207 between 5.30pm and 8.30pm, Monday to Friday.

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