Sluggish vaccine rollout disappoints parents

by Kim Bowden - Jan 19, 2022

Cromwell parents keen to have their five to 11 year olds vaccinated before the start of the school year will struggle to find a provider in town to do the jab.

At lunchtime today, the Ministry of Health online booking system (BookMyVaccine) listed just one location – Junction Health – open for bookings.

And, whānau would need to wait until Saturday, February 19 - more than four weeks - to nab a spot.

It's a more than four week wait for a vaccination booking for kids in Cromwell (Image: Screenshot Wednesday, January 19, 2pm, BookMyVaccine site).

Doing the right thing hasn’t been easy for Wanaka parents either.

A mother contacted Crux this morning frustrated a vaccine appointment booked for today for her daughter, who has severe asthma, was cancelled and rescheduled.

She says with Omicron community cases just around the corner she’s anxious to ensure her vulnerable daughter is as protected as possible.

As it is, she’s realistic she may have to homeschool her eventually.

Meanwhile, a mother in Cromwell, who also contacted Crux today, has given up trying to get her children vaccinated in town in time for the start of term one.

She’s opting to travel to Alexandra for earlier vaccination appointments instead.

When she jumped online this week, Junction Health was the only provider listed as an option for children’s jabs in Cromwell, with slots available from February 5.

The earliest available appointments in Wanaka and Queenstown were for January 29, with limited timeslots in Queenstown that day.

“Not a great for a start for our area that has places of interest this week in Queenstown.”

She says the Southern District Health Board (SDHB) seems to be “behind the eight ball” on the Covid-19 vaccine rollout for children.

“Auckland and the North Island is off to a great start with a true 17th of Jan rollout.

“It feels like we’re the poor cousins down here.”

In a statement on Monday, the day vaccination appointments became available to tamariki around the country, SDHB Covid-19 vaccine rollout programme lead Karl Metzler asked for kindness and patience.

“The rollout for five to 11-year-olds in Southern will be phased, with capacity ramping up significantly over the coming weeks across both existing and additional locations.

“Please be kind and patient while we work hard to extend vaccination availability across the district.”

Yesterday, 13,028 five to 11-year-olds in New Zealand received their first vaccine dose; So far this week, nearly 30,000 have done so.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health says they are working to break this data down by district health board.

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.

Although not in a position to comment on the local situation, Rachel Mackay, who heads operations for the National Immunisation Programme at the Ministry of Health, says more than 120,000 doses of the child vaccine have been delivered to approximately 500 vaccination sites around New Zealand. 

“The number of centres will increase over the coming weeks as health providers who have been taking a well-deserved summer break reopen.”

As with our source at the SDHB, she’s asking parents to be patient.

Her advice: Continue to check BookMyVaccine for ongoing availability or check in with local doctors, many of whom are offering child vaccinations for their enrolled patients.

Main Image: Photo RNZ file

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