Covid vaccine rollout under way at Christchurch rest homes

Aged-care facility residents in Christchurch will start receiving the Covid-19 vaccination this...
Aged-care facility residents in Christchurch will start receiving the Covid-19 vaccination this week. Photo: Getty
Thousands of relieved rest home residents are ready to join Christchurch’s Covid-19 vaccination programme, with the first doses expected to be administered on Thursday.

A mobile clinic is the focal point of the latest phase of the Canterbury District Health Board plan to safeguard Cantabrians, a highly-scrutinised objective that has drawn criticism from sectors of the medical community.

The clinic will visit aged-care facilities citywide, pleasing Age Care Canterbury.

“The rollout seems to be going well,” said chief executive Simon Templeton, who is not anticipating any resistance.

“There’s none that I’m aware of, most (residents) are looking forward to being protected.”

Templeton urged patience from anxious elderly and their loved ones as the two-dose programme gathers momentum.

“This is a huge undertaking – the biggest we have seen – and everyone will get vaccinated eventually.”

The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists – the union which covers salaried doctors and dentists – acknowledged there had been teething problems with the programme in Christchurch.

“We’ve heard anecdotally the vaccine rollout has gone a bit slower than expected and there has been trouble with the electronic messaging and appointment-making but that is slowly being ironed out,” a spokesperson said.

“At times there have been queues of people waiting two hours for their vaccination.”

The programme initially targeted border and MIQ workers plus the people they live with (group 1) followed by high-risk frontline workers and people living in high-risk places – including aged-care residents (group 2).

Christchurch GP and deputy chair of the New Zealand Medical Association, Vanessa Weenink, said the vaccine rollout had been patchy and issues loom when locals over the age of 65 with underlying medical conditions (group 3) join the process from the end of the month.

“The plan is for rapid growth in numbers of vaccines, so the challenges so far will hopefully have been learning events,” she said.

“If the problems with bookings and no-shows are not ironed-out for the wider population rollout, then there will be proportional wastage, frustration and annoyance.”

CDHB executive lead for the Covid-19 response, Ralph La Salle, said groups 1 and 2 would continue to be vaccinated for the next couple of months while plans were in place to cater for group 3.

“We’re ensuring community clinics, pharmacies, general practitioners and primary care providers are trained, fully staffed and ready to administer vaccinations (to those people),” he said.

The final phase inoculates the remainder of the Christchurch population aged 16 and over from July.

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