Fleet of 'Vax Vans' hits road ahead of National 'Vaccination Day'

By Te Ao - Māori News

The latest initiative in the drive to increase stubbornly low vaccination rates in parts of Tāmaki has driven off the lot in Māngere with the launch of the city’s first COVID-19 vaccination vans.

Eleven ‘vaxi vans’ were picked up by Māori, Pacific and primary care providers, with up to 44 campervans set to be operating across Tāmaki Makaurau in the coming weeks.

The Northern Region Health Coordination  Centre says the vans will help providers get to communities that may have had difficulties accessing vaccinations.

“The campervans are another great way to get to some of those harder to reach places on the edges of Tāmaki Makaurau and to those people who have not yet been able to get their vaccinations,” said NRHCC Vaccination Programme Director Matt Hannant.

The vans will offer vaccinations as well as opportunity for kōrero for whānau who might still have questions.

“It is more crucial than ever that we keep providing new ways to get people vaccinated, particularly when we are continuing to see new COVID-19 cases across the city.

“These smaller, more agile vehicles will help our provider partners to get to many of our rural communities or places where people don’t have easy transport options. It will also provide them with the flexibility to move to new locations around the city a lot quicker.” He said.

The ‘vaxi vans’ are standard-sized campervans fitted with cold storage to keep the Pfizer vaccine at the 2°C which ensures it is fully effective.

The first 11 vans will be operated by Huakina Trust and Turuki Healthcare as well as South Seas Healthcare. One van is also being taken up to Wellsford for use by Coast to Coast Healthcare, part of the Haora Trust. They intend to use the van to get to isolated rural communities in their rohe.

“The van enables us to alleviate stress for whanau and provides them and us with an agile and safe way to vaccinate them at their homes, schools or marae where they also feel more comfortable. We can take it to where our people are and we’re excited about the opportunities that brings.” Said Maria Clarke, Chair of Huakina Trust.

The different van designs were created by Bridgette Keil, Ngāti Tamaterā, from Koukou Creations. The design on Huakina Trust’s Tuuwatawata bus and vans represents hauora abundance and serves as protection to whānau and kaimahi along the vaccination pathway.

“It is a protector of our kaimahi as they travel our rohe enabling them to do the mahi in our communities,” said Bridgette.

The vans are part of a week of NRHCC efforts culminating in Saturday’s National Day of Action.   

On Saturday, all of Tāmaki’s vaccination centres, along with many GPs and pharmacies, will be staying open late to get as many people through the doors as possible.

The ground efforts will be met by a live ‘Vaxathon’ where celebrities, influencers and health professionals will front a broadcast, crossing over to COVID-19 vaccination sites to capture the atmosphere and experiences of those receiving their first or second vaccine. A live data board, updated in real time, will provide progress measures of how each region is tracking.

“The Vaxathon will be broadcast on Māori Television, TV3 and on Hahana’s Facebook page, from midday to 8pm Saturday.