What's New

Local centres waiting on Covid vaccinator status

Flagstaff Team

Shot!… Long-time Milford resident Beverley Page, aged 85, receiving her Covid-19 vaccination last week at William Sanders Retirement Village, which she moved into two years ago. “I never even felt it,” she said after vaccinator Olivia Tam pulled out the needle.

Older residents wanting to book in for Covid-19 vaccinations at their local doctor may have to wait a bit longer. A number of larger GP practice that have applied to be vaccinators have told the Observer they are still waiting to hear back from health authorities whether they have been accepted to dispense the doses.

“We definitely want to be part of it and they know it,” said the general manager of Shorecare at Smales Farm, Stephenie Quinn. “We are ready to go as soon as they are.” Quinn said Shorecare was looking to do after-hours and weekend vaccinations only for those people who could not get to local GPs on weekdays.

The Doctors Fred Thomas medical centre said it was working through the application process, but had no start date yet. When it did, patients from its smaller The Doctors Hauraki Corner clinic would be referred to Fred Thomas for their vaccinations, a spokesperson said.

People aged 65 plus or those with underlying medical conditions are eligible for vaccines now, with a wider staged rollout due from the end of July.

Medical centres say they are receiving calls from the public seeking appointments, but notification of when other groups can get these will come via district health boards not GPs.

The only public vaccination centre dispensing them on the North Shore so far is one established for the purpose in the former Warehouse building at the Highbury shops in Birkenhead. Travelling there is an issue for some.

A spokesperson for the Northern Region Health Coordination Centre, which is overseeing the rollout, told the Observer that an announcement about another large Shore vaccination centre would be made soon, when its location could be confirmed.

The Birkenhead centre was providing around 500 vaccinations a day, but it was expected this would ramp up to 1000, the spokesperson said.

While some doctors are willing and waiting to take on the task in their local communities, a number of smaller practices have held off applying. It is understood protocols have deterred them, including time needed for staff training.

The practice manager at Devonport Health Centre, Kartini Joseph, said indications were that the Ministry of Health was looking to speed the roll-out by involving more local GPs, after an initial focus on bigger clinics.

The centre had begun training its nurse team on the online requirements of the national Covid-19 register, but was still waiting to hear if it had been accepted as a vaccinator, she said.

MedPlus Hauraki is also awaiting official approval. It hoped to hear within the month, said practice manager Katherine Williams.

Quinn from Shorecare said it was understandable that the rollout would take time. It was a major matter, involving issues down to ensuring enough fridge space at some clinics. A smaller clinic might have just one fridge to hold a range of vaccines, and would have to find space for the Covid ones along with the likes of flu and measles shots. “It’s a big thing, so that’s why they’re starting with bigger GPs.” Staff at Shorecare were 99 per cent vaccinated already, she said, with exceptions being for pregnancy and health issues.

Meanwhile, some retirement villages and care cares have begun vaccinating. Metlifecare, which runs The Poynton in Takapuna, said work was under way at all its care centres, while it was working with authorities to support vaccinations for village residents, including at The Poynton.

Ryman’s William Sanders Village in Devonport began vaccinating those in its care centre and serviced apartment accommodation last week. Independent residents will be vaccinated from mid-July.

Oceania Healthcare, the operator of Lady Allum in Milford, had not responded by our deadline, with local staff having referred the Observer to head office for an answer.

The Rangitoto Observer can be downloaded online here.

Please consider supporting The Rangitoto Observer by clicking here: