Event draws 331 for vaccinations

The Field family of Clydevale (from left) Kerri and daughters Jade (20) and Tegan (16) wait after...
The Field family of Clydevale (from left) Kerri and daughters Jade (20) and Tegan (16) wait after receiving their first Covid-19 vaccinations at a drive-through event at Silver Fern Farms Finegand on Saturday afternoon. PHOTO: PHOTO: RICHARD DAVISON
Neither downpours nor gale-force winds could prevent a mass vaccination event from going ahead in South Otago on Saturday.

Silver Fern Farms (SFF) hosted the drive-through community event at its Finegand freezing works car park, just outside Balclutha, from 9am on Saturday.

About 20 volunteers from SFF managed logistics and traffic management, while a further 20 staff from Te Kaika medical practice in Dunedin administered vaccines.

Inclement weather late in the preceding week and
during the event itself did its best to thwart efforts to boost community immunity, but organisers were not to be deterred.

SFF risk manager Ross Buchan said gale-force nor’westers late on Thursday meant the facility’s main vaccination tent had to be rebuilt on Friday.

"It was basically destroyed, so we had to start from scratch there; then today we’ve had a good downpour for about half an hour.

"Fortunately we’ve all got ponchos, so we were able to keep things moving along."

Clutha residents assemble for the vaccination event at 8.15am on Saturday, about 45 minutes...
Clutha residents assemble for the vaccination event at 8.15am on Saturday, about 45 minutes before the official start. PHOTO: SUPPLIED BY SFF
He said 331 local people had received vaccinations during the seven-hour event.

"We’re encouraging as many of our staff as possible to get vaccinated, as we remain essential workers during lockdowns, but this event was for the whole community.

"It looks like we’ve seen about a 50:50 split of staff to general community today, which is fantastic."

Te Kaika chief executive Albie Laurence said organisers had not known what turnout to expect during planning.

"We had a thousand vaccinations available today, so we’re pretty happy with three to four hundred for a rural event, held at relatively short notice.

"It’s certainly encouraging enough to hold a follow-up."

He said Clutha had one of the lower rates of vaccine adoption in Otago, making mass events of this sort essential for "spreading the word".

"From our experience, word of mouth is the most powerful promotional tool.

"So if every person attending today tells their friends, family and colleagues about the ease and benefits of their experience, that’s a huge plus for the district as a whole."

The Field family, of Clydevale, received their first vaccines on Saturday afternoon.

Kerri Field, a dairy farmer and retail worker, said she and daughters Jade and Tegan had chosen to attend the drive-through event as there was a waiting list at the local GP practice, Clutha Health First, in Balclutha.

"We didn’t want to wait any longer and this was simple and straightforward.

"Tegan’s an essential [supermarket] worker, and I work in a Balclutha clothing store, so the Delta variant is potentially a bit scary when you’re customer facing."

Mrs Field encouraged others to get vaccinated.

"The sooner we’re protected the sooner we can get on with life and find our new normal."


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