Providing food more important than Covid jab, says Christchurch community leader

Kelly Barber. Photo: Supplied
Kelly Barber. Photo: Supplied
Vaccinating people against Covid-19 is not as important as putting food on the table for some in low socio-economic areas, says an east Christchurch community leader.

Coastal-Burwood Community Board chairman Kelly Barber said the demands of the daily grind are a factor in the board area’s vaccination engagement rates - which are the lowest in Christchurch.

Data from Canterbury District Health Board shared with Christchurch City Council shows 73 per cent of the community board area, or 41,468 people, have either received at least one vaccination or are booked in for a jab.

"The rates are not atrocious but you’ve got to help people and work with them," Barber said.

"If they’ve got work to go to and kids to look after and are busy with lots of other things, it’s probably not as important as putting food on the table."

He believes mobile vaccine stations appearing at busy Coastal-Burwood locations, such as supermarkets, during the weekend will help reach unvaccinated people.

CDHB staff met with Christchurch community boards to discuss vaccine rates - and Barber put this suggestion to them, he said.

The Fendalton-Waimairi-Harewood Community Board area leads the vaccine race. A total 82 per cent of its residents, or 51,737 people, had received at least one vaccine or were booked to do so.

Board member and Waimairi Ward city councillor Sam MacDonald believes the higher rates are in part due to many small business owners in the area keen to have a steady work environment, in spite of the pandemic.

"I think it’s because people have just realised we need to," he said.

With 80 per cent of Christchurch’s eligible population vaccinated or booked in, CDHB chief executive Dr Peter Bramley said the DHB is supporting the push to increase this figure to 90 per cent.

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