GPs to start phoning patients amid vaccination slump

By Will Trafford

Auckland GPs are leading a new initiative to call and kōrero with patients who are feeling unsure about getting vaccinated against Covid-19.

The Northern Region Health Coordination Centre (NRHCC) will fund the initiative initially focused on the 110,000 Māori and Pacific patients who have not had their first doses.

Patients will be able to have any and all questions answered to help them make an informed decision about the vaccine.

Launched at Papakura Marae’s GP practice on Friday by NRHCC clinical lead Dr Sarah Hartnall, she says it is about giving a one-to-one experience with doctors that patients trust.

“We want to provide them an opportunity to have a rich, individualised discussion in a supportive environment... For example, if someone is pregnant they may have particular topics they want to discuss with a trusted health source before they make the decision,” she says.

In addition to the calls, GPs will be able to provide other support such as help with bookings and access to transport for appointments.

Vaccinations in Tāmaki have slowed in recent weeks. In early September, the city vaccinated about eight percent of its entire population in a single week. That number was just three percent last week.

“This is now about the final stretch and getting those last few people over the line who may still have concerns,” Dr Hartnall said.

Dr Matire Harwood, who operates her GP clinic at the marae, said she hoped the initiative would galvanise work already started.

“We do have a lot of nervousness in our community still about the vaccine, so this will enable us to have those deeper conversations and really support people through their concerns to hopefully come down and get vaccinated,” she said.

A pilot programme operated by another GP, Dr Jodie O’Sullivan, at her clinic in Mt Eden has been met with success.

“We have managed to get around 93 percent of our patients vaccinated but it took many, and long, conversations with our patients to help them to come to that decision," she said.