Bookings strong as child vaccination ramps up

Local families have begun rolling up their sleeves en masse as the Covid-19 vaccine rollout for 5 to 11-year-olds ramps up.

With four-month booster shots also being offered to the wider population, vaccine clinics are experiencing strong bookings.

Southern DHB Covid-19 vaccine rollout programme lead Karl Metzler said all clinics in the southern region required bookings for 5- to 11-year-olds at this stage.

"Vaccinations for 5- to 11-year-olds mean we are now better placed to protect our tamariki, and keep them and their whanau safer," Mr Metzler said.

"Even though children generally have a reduced risk of getting very sick from Covid compared to older age groups, we know that it can still have serious consequences, particularly for children with compromised immune systems or significant respiratory conditions.’’

The rollout for 5- to 11-year-olds in the Southern district would be phased, capacity ramping up significantly over the coming weeks, he said.

The Ministry of Health had already delivered 120,000 paediatric doses of the Pfizer vaccine — which were one-third of the adult dose — to more than 500 vaccination sites nationwide.

Planning was well under way in the Southern district for specialist clinics for children with complex needs, or the Vaccination Outreach Service could provide home visits for children who were unable to access a clinic.

He understood that many parents, caregivers and tamariki might be feeling anxious or have questions about the vaccination, Mr Metzler said.

At the appointment, both the adult and child could ask as many questions as they liked. People could also talk to their trusted health professional, such as their GP, or call 080028-29-26 to speak to a trained clinician, he said.

People eligible for their four-month booster vaccination have been able to book a slot since Monday.

Bookings are available online at BookMyVaccine, or by phoning 080028-29-26 (8am to 8pm, seven days a week).

"It is encouraging to see a strong uptake of booster vaccinations across the Southern district. However, there are still a lot of people who are eligible who have not taken up the opportunity,’’ Mr Metzler said.

"A booster vaccination is our best defence against Omicron."

First and second doses are still available at all vaccination sites.

By mid-January, the Southern DHB had delivered more than 600,000 vaccinations, including about 50,000 booster doses.

 - A full list of clinics offering vaccinations for 5- to 11-year-olds can be found at www.southernhealth.nz/COVID19/vaccine/children.

brenda.harwood@thestar.co.nz

Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter