Mayor speaks out on vaccine hesitancy

Clutha officials are worried the district may be falling behind in Covid-19 vaccine uptake and residents are being urged to take up their "moral obligation" and get vaccinated.

Speaking after a presentation by Southern District Health Board Covid-19 vaccination officials to social services and employers in the district on Tuesday, Clutha Mayor Bryan Cadogan said he was "quite concerned" the uptake appeared to be one of the lowest in the region.

In Clutha, about 31.5% of residents had not received any vaccine to date, compared with about 20% for the Southern region as a whole.

Only 39.5% were fully vaccinated in Clutha (Southern: 48%) and about 28.5% had received the first of two recommended shots (Southern: 32%).

Mr Cadogan said unvaccinated residents should "respond to [their] moral obligation" by getting vaccinated as soon as possible.

"No-one wants it on their conscience that they could have been responsible for the lifelong disability or death of a family member, friend, neighbour or colleague.

"We owe it to our young in particular to respond to our moral obligation and get vaccinated.

"The time for hesitancy is over."

Mr Cadogan was referring to findings presented by the DHB team that "mainstream hesitancy" was now the main obstacle standing in the way of further vaccination in the South.

Southern Covid-19 vaccination programme lead Hamish Brown said although the South as a whole was doing well with regard to uptake, hesitancy was the next obstacle to overcome.

"We’re actually slightly ahead of the country as a whole at present, and have our own target of 90% on the vaccination pathway before Christmas.

"But we’re aware that last 10% will be hard to reach, and one of the factors at play there is mainstream hesitancy."

He said those falling into that category were not specifically "anti-vaccine", but hesitant due to apprehension about the vaccine’s newness; a perceived lack of information about possible unknown effects; or due to other factors including remoteness, isolation and lack of transport.

He said some felt "less sense of urgency" due to their remoteness, for example rurally.

The presentations to employers and social service providers were a step in addressing those issues, he said.

"Communities know about their own community, and employers and social services are simply other channels in.

"Our goal is to join up southern communities for a connected response."



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