Vaxathon a huge success - Dr Ashley Bloomfield

By Marena Mane

 Health deputy-general Dr Ashley Bloomfield, the director-general, said there was a huge effort on Saturday to get everyone vaccinated, with 130,000 people vaccinated, and signs of lockdown weariness in Tāmaki Makaurau after nine weeks of restrictions.

According to Bloomfield, the vaxathon paid off in two ways: 130,000 vaccines were given out, 20,000 Māori were vaccinated, and a sense of community was created.

“That's what's got us through the pandemic so well to date already and vaccinations are all about, not just protecting yourself and protecting others so it was great to see that renewed sense of collective nation. I really loved that about the day,” he says.

Bloomfield says his favourite part of Saturday's Vaxathon was when reporters and journalists from all over the motu asked, "Why did you get vaccinated?" This got people talking about what inspired and encouraged them to be vaccinated.

“I just want to thank all those people who maybe already were vaccinated, they were getting out there and just encouraging and supporting their whānau and friends to get it done on the day, so that was a great feature of the day.”

North Shore party

Bloomfield praises those who are putting in effort and adhering to the alert level three limitations, which are helping to keep Auckland's numbers down while referring to a party pictured on social media in the weekend on Auckland's North Shore.

“To those who are feeling a bit tired of all that, everybody is. Keep the parties NOT part of your repertoire for the next few weeks, then we will all be able to party together when we get those vaccination rates up. It doesn't help anybody if people break the rules now.”

Vaccination goal

Bloomfield says the government wants to ensure that all communities get vaccinated, whether they are Māori, Pasifika, or marginalised so that people don't become sick or die from Covid.

“It's very important not just for the government but for actually all of us, that we don't leave anyone behind in the vaccinations and hence that very strong focus on lifting those Māori and Pasifika rates, especially among young people.”

The 90 percent vaccination goal, according to Bloomfield, is a milestone rather than a target that will assist, manage and eliminate Covid in the community while also preventing people from ending up in the hospital.

“Nearly there with that 90%, but just to emphasize, that’s not a target job and finish, that’s a milestone, and every percentage point we get above 90, adds even more benefit so we're going to keep going.” 

Bloomfield says the government is attempting to contain and limit the virus inside Auckland, which is why hard borders are still in place and the virus is being eradicated outside of Auckland in locations like Te Tai Tokerau and Waikato.

“As people cross to and fro across that border. It just does create risk for everybody. And so keeping that boundary in place is still going to be an important part of the response still.”