Jab confusion disappoints

A Portobello man has been left confused and frustrated after his Covid-19 vaccination was cancelled without him receiving any notice.

Tom Churchill (74) was given a booking for 1pm Wednesday, August 25, at Otakou Marae, for his first Pfizer-BioNTech jab.

But when he got there the marae was closed and he could see no information as to why.

‘‘There was no-one there at all, no-one from vaccines.’’

Mr Churchill saw about half a dozen other people also there for vaccinations, who were as in the dark as he was.

He said he did not get any notification that the booking was cancelled and when he phoned the vaccine helpline the person had ‘‘no idea’’ about the booking.

The site was still listed as a vaccination centre on the Southern District Health Board healthpoint website last Thursday.

Otakou runaka representative Donna Matahaere-Atariki said the decision was to made to close vaccination clinics at the marae about August 20 because of the Alert Level 4 lockdown.

Ms Matahaere-Atariki said the booking system was done nationally and the clinic did not have information on the individual people who had booked a vaccine at the marae.

‘‘We have no eye over the booking system.

‘‘We don’t actually even get to see the names of the people.’’

When lockdown occurred, the marae realised there would be some people who would be travelling from the city out to the marae to get their vaccines, and decided to keep people from travelling by closing the clinic.

‘‘We contacted all those from the marae and from our environment that we knew, because we don’t have access to anything else.’’

Otakou Health chief executive Albie Laurence also visited the marae to let people know the marae clinics were closed and to encourage people to get vaccinated at the Edgar Centre.

Mrs Matahere-Atariki said the marae clinics were really for vulnerable people who were close to the marae and the village, but because it was a national booking system there had been people from outside the area who were assigned bookings there.

‘‘We have actually got this very strange thing of a lot of non-Maori booking to have it on the marae ... we won’t turn them away.’’

This was despite the fact there were other vaccination sites people would pass on their way to the marae, she said.

‘‘What it highlighted for me was how desperate people are, that they would drive that far, they would actually go out of their Level 4 lockdown to get to a vaccination clinic.’’

Otakou Health was also assisting kaumatua and families who were over 65 or were vulnerable by conducting the vaccinations in their homes.

A Southern District Health Board spokeswoman said the vaccination clinics were cancelled because the marae was closed under Alert Level 4.

Communications went out to the community via the runaka (council) advising people vaccines were available at the Edgar Centre.

Unfortunately, this had not been updated on the Healthpoint website and this had been rectified, she said.

‘‘We are investigating why he [Mr Churchill] was not able to receive booking support through the helpline.

‘‘We apologise to the gentleman and anyone else who attended the clinic expecting it to be open, and ask them to call 080028-29-26 for help rescheduling their appointment.’’

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