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Initiative 'helping offer new opportunities' for Maori and Pasifika healthcare workers

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Over the past year, Aotearoa has been through a vaccination drive like never before. Retired staff came back to the workforce, teams of doctors, nurses and other health professionals have worked long hours in clinics and in drive-through vaccination centres to help ensure kiwis are protected from COVID-19.

Last year, the Ministry of Health announced planning for an extra 1,600 full-time equivalent vaccinators to scale up beyond the regular workforce of general practitioners, nurses, and pharmacists. This effort would source vaccinators from a range of clinical roles, plus a system to allow people who have worked in other healthcare settings to become COVID-19 vaccinators working under supervision (or CVWUS).

Faced with this unprecedented demand, Tokoroa has now embraced CVWUS.

The COVID-19 Immunisation Programme (CVIP) in Tokoroa is a great example of collaboration, with Waikato DHB working in close partnership with Raukawa Charitable Trust and South Waikato Pacific Island Community Services (SWPICS).

"We have a mix of staff working together from all three partners. The candidates nominated to train to become CVWUS, many who have been involved in the CVIP in various capacities for some time, were jointly selected based on their maturity, career pathways, and a sincerity in serving their communities through this opportunity" says SWPICS CEO Akarere Henry.

The new CVWUS roles were established late last year to support the country’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout programme. The new class of COVID-19 Vaccinators work in a vaccinating team and operate with a limited scope with support from a Clinical Vaccination Supervisor (CSV).

The training programme has been put together by the Immunisation Advisory Centre (IMAC) to increase the vaccinating workforce and provide a more diverse group of vaccinators that the public can identify with friendly local faces. It involves an online course, a face-to-face workshop run by the Immunisation Advisory Centre (IMAC), CPR/Basic life support training, a workbook, and a period of observing all aspects of the vaccination process.

Once all the requirements are met, candidates perform a minimum of five directly supervised vaccinations. If both the assessor and the candidate feel they are competent and safe they can then apply to the Ministry of Health for authorisation as a CVWUS.

Once authorised to work under the supervision they can administer the Pfizer vaccine to persons 18yrs+ who fit screening criteria.

According to Sarah McFadyen, Tokoroa-based CVWUS Supervisor and Assessor the consent and screening of patients remains the responsibility of the authorised vaccinator, but the addition of CVWUS staff can significantly increase capacity, particularly during periods of peak demand.

McFadyen says "it was great to have been involved with this first cohort of hard working and dedicated staff in Tokoroa. I’m excited for the opportunity this additional training provides for them and look forward to seeing what they do next."

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