Front-line health worker Sheryl Clark wants to keep her “second family” safe at the Invercargill residential care home where she works.
So she got immunised for Covid-19 on Monday morning.
Clark was among the first of thousands of Southlanders who will be immunised at a permanent vaccination centre set up at the Civic Theatre in the city.
The centre was officially opened on Monday morning, with the first people to receive jabs from 11am being frontline health workers, including Clark.
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A kitchen superviser at Bainfield Park Residential Care, Clark will receive her second jab in several weeks.
“It’s protection for work, we have got a lot of elderly and compromised people so I can do my bit to keep therm safe,” she said.
“They are my second family.”
Being immunised would also help keep her husband, whose lungs were compromised, safe from Covid, and she hoped to visit Australia soon to see loved ones, she added.
Vaccine programme leader Karl Metzler said the Invercargill City Council had made the Victoria Room in the Civic Theatre available for the next 12 months, with six vaccination booths set up.
“We are looking to vaccinate more than 360 people a day,” Metzler said.
After frontline health workers, those with long term health issues would get their jabs before the general population vaccine rollout begins in the middle of the year. Each person would receive two jabs, about three weeks apart.
The Civic Theatre site was set up predominantly for Invercargill residents to get the jab.
In total, about 80,000 people aged over 16 would be vaccinated across Southland, at the Civic Theatre and at other locations including Gore.
Metzler said the south was currently in a good position in regards to Covid-19 and and the vacination rollout would strengthen that position.
People needed to follow an online booking system to get their jabs but it was a clunky system and would be improved, he said.
“As we get to the general population it will be more efficient.”
Metzler said he was mindful of “vaccination hesitancy” among some people, and a national campaign would address that issue.
“It’s a very real issue and the Ministry of Health will be targeting that.”
It was a privilege to be a part of the biggest vaccine rollout in the country’s history as it would benefit the physical and economic health of New Zealanders, allow borders to be reopened and enable people to visit their loved ones, he said.
Covid-19 vaccination programme manager Emma McDonough said so far 6627 people had been vaccinated against Covid in the SDHB area covering Otago and Southland.