People in Reefton who want to defend themselves from Covid-19 will be able to get the vaccine beginning this week at the local medical centre.
The little town of 900 is the first in New Zealand to have the shots on offer to the general public.
West Coast District Health Board operations manager Phil Wheble told the DHB board meeting on Friday that the focus until now had been to immunise front-line health care workers and people in aged care, with 1240 people vaccinated on the West Coast to date.
“In Reefton, we have the capacity to vaccinate the health workers and anyone else we can – so it’s an opportunity to test our systems for the whole community.”
Board chairperson Rick Barker said he was pleased staff had chosen to expand the programme to Reefton.
“But how will [the locals] react?” he asked.
Reefton board member Susan Barnett said she thought people were looking forward to it.
“We’ve been doing some clinics with our [health] workers and there’s been lots of positive reaction.”
Board member Edie Moke asked Wheble if he was comfortable that plans for the vaccination rollout on the West Coast had been well-advertised.
Wheble said the programme was in its very early stages but communications had begun with the Coast’s more remote communities.
Comments on social media this morning revealed some confusion over the Reefton rollout, with some people unaware it would be available to people other than health workers.
Members of the public wanting to take up the offer have been asked to register for a vaccination appointment at the medical centre. Registration forms are available in the Clarion newsletter, at shops, the council office and Reefton Information Centre.
The first clinic is scheduled for this Thursday, prioritising rest home residents, health and critical service workers and people with health vulnerabilities, but a spokesperson said it was likely some slots could also be available for members of the general public.
The DHB said more clinics were set to follow in due course.
Local Democracy Reporting