Looking after whānau business as usual for Whakatōhea Health Centre

By Rukuwai Tipene-Allen

Whakatōhea Health is not sitting back in a time of crisis. Its team has stepped up to the call and started vaccinating people in droves.

The drive-through site was set up on Friday and has been putting in some serious mahi on behalf of Bay of Plenty District Health Board.

The change to a drive-through service for vaccinations has been made to keep whānau safe under level 4 and staff say it's going well. 

The team administered 108 vaccinations last Friday and today had bookings for over 200, which is a significant contribution to the New Zealand vaccination numbers.

"We’re so proud of our team, the wider iwi support team, and the Ōpōtiki general practices to have turned this around, practice manager Teina Hudson says. "It’s important we continue to offer the protection of the vaccine.” 

The team is set up in Ōpotiki. At the last census, over 63% of people in the Ōpotiki district said they were Māori. 

First to offer vaccinations

Bay of Plenty District Health Board Covid-19 incident controller Trevor Richardson says it's fantastic to see Ōpōtiki residents offered the full protection of the vaccine, even under the tight restriction of Alert Level 4.

"The recent community cases have reminded us how incredibly important our immunity against Covid-19 is.”

“Reaching rural communities, like Ōpōtiki, with higher Māori populations, is a key focus for our team as these communities could be more at risk in a widespread outbreak.”

The team has been administering the Covid-19 vaccine every Tuesday and Friday since July 27.

“The Whakatōhea Health Centre was the first primary care provider in the Eastern Bay of Plenty that came onboard to administer the vaccine,” Richardson says.

The district health board acknowledges that primary care providers, such as GPs and pharmacies, are a key part of the vaccine rollout and "will be instrumental in a successful delivery.”

Hudson takes pride in the work the team are doing, “The vaccine delivery in Ōpōtiki is an example of community working together. It is a collaboration between the three GP clinics – Whakatōhea Health Centre, Church Street Surgery and Toi Ora Health – and Whakatōhea iwi.”

More than 130,000 Covid-19 vaccines have been administered in the Bay of Plenty to Sunday, and a good number of them are because of this team's mahi.