Walk-in vaccination to cope with bump in eligibility

A free, walk-in vaccination clinic will take place at the Cross Recreation Centre in Balclutha tomorrow to coincide with "a cohort of eligibility".

Clutha Health First clinical director Gary Reed said while there had been a resurgence of the BA.5 variant across the region in July, there was not an unusually high incidence of Covid in the community, and the clinic was based on "a strategic date", not pandemic issues.

"The southern region has particularly high rates of vaccinations but as vaccine efficiency begins to wane after three to six months, the Government has recommended boosters to keep immunity up.

"That’s what we’re trying to do, ensure people who are eligible can come and get a vaccine at a convenient time and place," Mr Reed said.

"It’s predominantly for patients who are immunocompromised, over 65, plus children and youth who are now in that six-month time frame for eligibility for the booster following the completion of their primary course [the first two doses].

"We’re trying to get ahead of the curve."

The clinic is a co-operative initiative between Clutha Health First, Invercargill’s WellSouth Primary Health Network and Southern District Health Board Te Whatu Ora, which agreed Balclutha’s centrality and large patient catchment made it a good location to offer flu, MMR, diptheria, tetanus and whooping cough vaccinations as well as Covid boosters.

Mr Reed said as well as advertising the clinic, the three health organisations had been directly contacting clients listed on their databases who were eligible.

"We have run walk-in flu vaccination clinics three times each flu season for the last three years which have been very successful, so we’ve decided to try that model with Covid vaccinations.

"As well as Pfizer we’re offering Novavax and Astra Zeneca, which people would normally have to travel to a main centre to have.

The clinic, which runs from 10am-3pm, would have 12 to 14 staff and organisers were hoping for up to 500 people.

By Nick Brook

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