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The West Coast needs to double its weekly vaccination rate and reach at least 3200 more people in just over three weeks if it is to meet Government targets.
The South Island will move away from alert levels, into the new ‘‘traffic light’’ system, once 90% of the eligible population is fully vaccinated.
However, the West Coast remains one of the least vaccinated regions in the country.
In an email yesterday to mayors and West Coast-Tasman MP Damien O’Connor, the West Coast District Health Board outlined the challenge it faced.
‘‘We need to reach at least another 3200 West Coasters (including 559 Maori) for their first dose by November 26,’’ programme manager Helen Gillespie said.
‘‘This means first doses to at least 1100 each week (double what we are currently achieving).’’
Teams from the Southern and Canterbury DHBs are now on the ground on the West Coast to help. The Southern DHB team of eight helped with the Hokitika drive-through clinic on Sunday, which vaccinated 370 people.
A further 16 vaccinators and administration staff from the Canterbury DHB arrived yesterday.
Mrs Gillespie said capacity at all clinics had been increased and no bookings were required. In the past week, 606 people on the West Coast received their first dose.
A pop-up clinic at Runanga on Friday drew 75 people.
This week there will be teams in Blaketown, Reefton, Inangahua, Hokitika, Westland High School, Tai Poutini Polytechnic, Cobden, Moana, Westport, Greymouth and Hokitika. Drive-throughs will again be offered at the Greymouth aerodrome on Saturday and Sunday.
A marketing campaign will also start this week.
Mr O’Connor said the Coast had to reach the target.
All the international evidence pointed to a 90% vaccination rate being the ideal as it meant the health system could treat sick people while the economy largely continued as normal, he said.
There were numerous examples from around the world that showed when it was not done properly, lockdowns went on longer, economies suffered and people died, he said.
‘‘We have to do it.
‘‘I’ll be on the Coast this week visiting people.’’ — Greymouth Star