More child vaccines on way

by Kim Bowden - Jan 21, 2022

There’s a reason parents have struggled to book Covid-19 vaccination timeslots for children in Queenstown, Wanaka and Cromwell this week – the district health board had only a little more than 500 jabs available.

This, despite national messaging from the Ministry of Health encouraging whānau across the country to immunise tamariki from last Monday.

But capacity is set to ramp up next week, in terms of both numbers and locations.

Southern District Health Board’s vaccine rollout programme lead Karl Metzler says the first week of the five to 11-year-old vaccination rollout across New Zealand has seen strong demand in Queenstown Lakes and Central Otago.

Week one, the SDHB had only 516 vaccination slots; in week two, this will increase to 1,154 slots.

These allocations are spread between providers on BookMyVaccine and local GPs, for their enrolled patients.

Capacity will continue to rise steadily across the whole district in the coming weeks as more providers come on board. 

There are 3,624 five to 11-year-olds in Queenstown Lakes, and 1849 in Central Otago.

With the school year set to kick off in a matter of weeks, it is unknown how many tamariki in Cromwell, Wanaka and Queenstown have received their first vaccine dose.

Yesterday, 11,762 five to 11 year olds in New Zealand received their first vaccine dose; So far this week, more than 51,000 have done so.

A breakdown of these figure by region is expected from the Ministry of Health in the coming weeks.

On Wednesday, Crux reported parents trying to use BookMyVaccine to secure a vaccination timeslot for their children in Cromwell were being offered a more than four-week wait, while in Wanaka one mother was frustrated an appointment for her daughter, who suffers from severe asthma, was cancelled and rescheduled for a later date.

Mr Metzler says the rollout across the Southern district has been smooth.

However, he did say there was an isolated issue at the Wanaka Medical Practice, where a small number of children had been booked over and above the capacity the centre could safely deliver.

“This issue was quickly resolved once we were made aware of it, and all affected children were offered an alternative appointment. 

“The Southern Covid Programme team acknowledges the significant inconvenience and frustration for families impacted by this issue and apologises for this.”

Talking to Crux this week, spokespeople from both the Ministry of Health and the SDHB encouraged parents to be patient and to continue to use BookMyVaccine to book a vaccination time for their children or contact their local GP.

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