Lakes DHB has reached the milestone of 90% fully vaccinated. Photo/Andrew Warner
The Lakes District Health Board region has reached the milestone of 90% complete immunizations for people ages 12 and older.
The Department of Health announced the achievement in today’s 1pm Covid update, praising the DHB.
According to Health Department data as of midnight Friday, Lakes had 319 doses to take before reaching 90% double dose, however, he is rounding up the percentage.
The at least partial vaccination rate was 93%. Among Maori aged 12 and over, 82% were fully vaccinated and 88% at least partially vaccinated.
The DHB says the work is not done and it hopes to increase the rate of Maori as well as children newly eligible for vaccination, with the highly transmissible variant of Omicron on the doorstep.
Lakes District Health Board chief executive Nick Saville-Wood said the DHB wanted to recognize the “amazing mahi” for reaching the 90% goal.
“The effort has been enormous. It is the largest vaccination program undertaken in New Zealand.”
Saville-Wood said it was a “truly collaborative effort” by many, and could not have been done without the “significant support” of iwi, health organizations and its practices, pharmacists, DHB staff and communities who believed the vaccine was the best protection for themselves and their whānau.
The aim has always been to ensure that Maori communities achieve the 90% target alongside the rest of the communities, he said.
“Bringing 90% Maori continues to be our priority and we will be working with our iwi partners to try new innovations to reach those we need to reach this really important milestone.”
Asked what hurdles the DHB foresees in getting the remaining 10% vaccinated, Saville-Wood said there will “always be a number of people that we will struggle to reach.”
“It is hoped that when the benefits of vaccination are focused on rather than the misinformation that we unfortunately see too often, there will be more people willing to come forward and get vaccinated.”
In a statement today, the DHB said work was not quite complete.
Chief Operating Officer Alan Wilson has urged parents to get their children aged 5 to 11 vaccinated now, before school starts.
“Get your kids vaccinated before school starts and get exposed to other kids – there’s only a week left.”
He said there is plenty of capacity for walk-in visits at the Rotorua Immunization Hub in the Central Mall and the Taupō Immunization Hub at 6/79 Totara St.
Options for adult doses, including reminders, included the Te Arawa Covid drive-thru on Clayton Rd and a range of GPs and pharmacies.
He said Omicron was likely to be in the community “any day” and that the expected numbers were “very worrying”.
“There are many places to get vaccinated in the district, there are a lot of vaccinators available, and the vaccine – it’s urgent now,” he said.
Te Arawa Covid Response Hub kaumātua Monty Morrison said he was delighted to reach the 90% milestone for the team who have worked so hard to bring the community to this point.
“I thank them for their energy and dedication to helping keep our community safe.
“All residents of our rohe can be proud of their contribution to achieving this excellent result. Through this achievement, we are saving lives.”
Morrison wanted to thank frontline health workers, especially those working at MIQ.
“I would like to say to all of our frontline health workers, especially those working at MIQ, we thank you for your service and your personal sacrifices.
“It has not been an easy time and it will continue to be difficult – but your strength and dedication means our communities and our most vulnerable are safer.”
But Morrison said there was still work to be done and the hub was aiming for 95% to ensure all whānau were protected.
Morrison said supporting the rollout of the pediatric vaccine and booster program was among the hub’s priorities going forward.
“We want to reinforce the message that no organization, group, iwi or community can do this alone. However, together we can.”
Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick said hitting the 90 per cent mark was a “fantastic milestone”, although it has been a long time coming and the work does not stop now.
Chadwick acknowledged efforts to get the community vaccinated with DHB, iwi and others in the local health sector.
“It’s a big job and a big responsibility and I think people have responded in recent weeks to the call to get vaccinated alongside a growing awareness of the Omicron variant.
“Vaccination is how we protect ourselves and the community and now we need to make sure people stay up to date with their vaccinations… and need to keep working to reach those who are not yet vaccinated.
“It’s important that we all remain very vigilant now, given how quickly Omicron is known to spread.”
Six new cases of Covid-19 were announced in Rotorua on Saturday.
A case in Palmerston North and a worker at Auckland Airport have both been confirmed carriers of Omicron. The airport worker has been potentially linked to returnees in Rotorua and Auckland through whole genome sequencing, the ministry said.
To book a vaccine, go to bookmyvaccine.covid19.health.nz