Mass vaccination day 1: False start but recovery for 'Olympics of vaccination'

Author
Adam Pearse, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 30 Jul 2021, 5:16PM
The delays which plagued people keen to get a jab this morning appear to have gone as the first day of the country's first mass vaccination event comes to a close. Photo / Michael Craig
The delays which plagued people keen to get a jab this morning appear to have gone as the first day of the country's first mass vaccination event comes to a close. Photo / Michael Craig

Mass vaccination day 1: False start but recovery for 'Olympics of vaccination'

Author
Adam Pearse, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 30 Jul 2021, 5:16PM

It may have been a false start for the "Olympics of vaccination" in South Auckland today, but it appears the country's first mass vaccination effort is back on track.

After an efficient beginning this morning at the vaccination site at the Vodafone Events Centre in Manukau, people booked for a jab were soon waiting more than an hour at the Manukau Institute of Technology building where people were registered and then bussed to the centre.

The Northern Region Health Co-ordination Centre said the increased demand was caused by people arriving early for their appointments. More administrative staff were quickly brought in to reduce queues.

It is hoped more than 16,500 people will be vaccinated across the three-day vaccination event - about 3500 of them MIT staff and students.

Before its opening this morning, acting Covid-19 response minister Dr Ayesha Verrall dubbed the event the "Olympics of vaccination", and was confident health staff would bring home a gold.

Mass vaccination lead Alex Pimm said there were no queues as at 3pm. More than 2500 vaccines had been administered so far, which he said put them on track to achieve 5000 for the day.

Rob, who asked to keep his last name private, said he was slightly lost when he arrived at the MIT site at 8.45am because of a lack of signage.

Queues at the MIT site in Manukau were extensive. Photo / NZME

Going into the building, Rob said people in the queue were quite close together, which he thought could be a potential virus transmission risk.

"I think they were just a little bit disjointed there," he said.

He hoped there were good traffic plans in place during the weekend as the hassle to find the right building tempted him to give up and leave.

However, he said the friendly staff made the process very smooth.

Pimm said additional admin staff would be sent to the MIT site over the weekend to cope with demand. He assured people they did not need to arrive early.

"It's great to have some feedback from people who have been through and we'll be looking at that this evening to see if we make any changes."

He was "incredibly pleased" to hear Rob's account of his staff, which he said was similar to the reports he had heard from others throughout the day.

Pimm was confident in the traffic management plans which could be used over the weekend, but encouraged people to utilise the free shuttle to the MIT site or to carpool.

Earlier today, the first people to get the jab were largely positive about the experience, echoing Rob's view of the staff.

"Everybody's very friendly and helpful," MIT academic centre staffer Bruce Whitfield said.

The Harper family were also very complimentary of the staff inside the vaccination centre as they got their jab.

David, Tracey and James were eligible to visit today's centre because of Tracey's employment at MIT.

Tracey hoped to reassure others who were nervous about getting the jab.

"It's like getting a vaccine for measles or anything, there's no reason to be scared."