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Partners open community vaccination centre in Tokoroa

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

South Waikato’s new COVID-19 community vaccination centre truly has community at its heart.

The centre, which opens in Tokoroa on Monday 13 September, is a partnership between community groups Raukawa Charitable Trust and South Waikato Pacific Islands Community Services (SWPICS) and Waikato District Health Board.

The three organisations already have a long-standing partnership, working closely together last year to deliver COVID-19 testing in the district. They planned to open the new vaccination centre on 23 August but it was delayed due to the recent Level 4 lockdown.

Over that time, Raukawa and SWPICS collaborated with the DHB and South Waikato District Council to run a drive-through testing and vaccination clinic, vaccinating over 2000 people in only a few days.

Vaccinations will be offered from Tuesday to Friday at a new Leith Place vaccination centre with a late night on Thursdays. On Saturdays, they will be delivered at a drive-through clinic at SWPICS’ Maraetai Road facility. Raukawa, DHB and SWPICS staff will work together to provide vaccinations.

Waikato COVID-19 vaccine programme lead Maree Munro said working in close partnership with local providers helped to deliver the best approach for a community.

"Raukawa and SWPICS are deeply involved in supporting the people of South Waikato and they know their community and its health needs really well," Munro said. "They’ve been involved in the Waikato vaccination programme since it began and we’re grateful to have their knowledge and experience as we scale things up."

After a whakamānawatanga on Monday dedicating the new centre to the kaupapa of the vaccination programme, vaccinations will start on Tuesday 14 September and will be by appointment only. Bookings can be made on or through the national booking line on 0800 28 29 26.

The South Waikato community vaccination centre will be able to vaccinate up to 250 people a day and will replace vaccinations at Tokoroa Hospital and weekday clinics run by Raukawa and SWPICS.

"Māori and Pacific people are more at risk if they catch COVID-19 and vaccinating this group in big numbers is an important way we can protect the welfare and wellbeing of our community," SWPICS CEO Akarere Henry said.

"By working collectively, we can vaccinate more people more quickly and we’ll be doing it in an environment where we hope everyone will feel safe and welcome."

The Waikato vaccination programme is taking a whānau approach, meaning whole families can book in for their vaccinations. Munro said the best way of organising family bookings was by calling 0800 28 29 26.

She said appointments for individuals could also be booked online at Everyone aged 12 and over is now able to book their vaccination.

"By getting vaccinated, people will protect themselves, play their part in protecting their family, friends and wider community and help to support official decisions around opening up the country further," Munro said. "It’s clear that COVID-19 will be with us for a while."

Vaccinations are free and the Pfizer vaccine has been approved by New Zealand’s medicines regulator, Medsafe.

So far, over 315,000 vaccinations have been delivered across the Waikato. It will take until the end of the year to ensure everyone eligible has been given an opportunity to receive a vaccination.

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