A public health expert says “record numbers” for Covid-19 vaccinations on Super Saturday could be put down to staff and community support and commitment.
Ministry of Health data showed 6116 doses had been administered in the Bay of Plenty District Health Board region, as of 9.36pm on Saturday.
On Saturday afternoon, the DHB’s senior Covid-19 response officer Brent Gilbert-De Rios said there had been “record numbers way beyond our expectations”.
“A huge community effort – it’s just been absolutely outstanding.”
Gilbert-De Rios gave “a big shout out” to vaccination providers who got behind Super Saturday – a major campaign to encourage New Zealanders to get vaccinated against Covid-19.
University of Waikato professor of public health Ross Lawrenson said the organisation of the DHBs and the commitment of staff and the community turning up to get vaccinated contributed to record-breaking numbers, as well as having giveaways like sausage sizzles, ice creams and hāngi.
Super Saturday was “a fantastic effort from the team of five million” and had given “a whole boost” to the national vaccination programme.
The Merivale community centre hosted its first pop-up vaccination clinic on Super Saturday and had people lining up to get vaccinated 30 minutes before it opened. The centre had a barbecue, smoothie-making machines and music.
Kimberley James with her children Connor and Skye. Photo / Megan Wilson
Kimberley James and her son Connor were the first two people through the door. They decided to get their first jab on Super Saturday despite having appointments booked for the end of October.
“It was a lot closer to where we lived. It was a community event so they were supplying food and stuff like that,” James said.
“I was looking forward to [it] because it was more a family-orientated event.
James said she was getting vaccinated because her 11-year-old daughter Skye could not.
“So I need to be Covid-free as much as I can to keep her safe.”
Tauranga-based Labour list MP Jan Tinetti helped organise the clinic as she knew the Merivale community “really well” having been principal of Merivale School for 11 years.
“We know that there’s been a low uptake of the vaccine out of the Tauranga community … it’s Super Saturday and we’re working to rectify that,” she said.
“I knew that it would be good to have one here, even if it’s just to highlight the importance of the vaccine and to get people talking to the medical professionals who are here from the DHB today.”
John Hebenton volunteered at the centre and said vaccination rates needed to be “much higher” to keep people safe.
The pop-up vaccination clinic in Mount Maunganui was opposite the beach volleyball area. Photo / Megan Wilson
Across town, a pop-up vaccination clinic was set up at Mount Maunganui Main Beach.
Vaccinator Alice Yu said the Bay of Plenty was “a really big hot spot” in the summer. She hoped vaccination rates increased so everyone could have a “good safe summer”.
“It’s a really quick vaccination. I think having it by the volleyball area shows that it’s really just 20 minutes just to get your jab, go back to playing [and] get your ice cream.”
Rebecca Stark got her second dose “slightly early” because of the special day.
“It’s probably the most scenic spot in the world for your vaccination – [it’s] nice to sit and watch beach volleyball instead of being in a doctors waiting room.”
Wiremu Taurima worked in Mount Maunganui and got his first jab on Saturday.
“Saturday morning – come down and enjoy the sun and get my first jab and I feel really good that I’ve done it,” he said.
Taurima said the “whole telethon buzz” made getting vaccinated feel like “we were doing it all together as a team”.
“I actually feel responsible. I actually feel I’m part of the team now.”
Wiremu Taurima got his first jab on Super Saturday. Photo / Megan Wilson
Te Puna Ora o Mataatua Charitable Trust chief operating officer Lee Colquhoun said Super Saturday was about making getting vaccinated “more of a fun day with music and free hāngi and coffees”.
The trust had pop-up clinics at Pak’nSave in Whakatāne and in Murupara, which saw 255 vaccines administered across both.
Colquhoun said the trust wanted to increase vaccination rates in Murupara and it would go there for the next eight weeks to “really try and prioritise some of these small areas”.
The trust would also have BBQs and kai packs with their vaccination clinics.
“For us, it’s just continuing to use that whānau ora model as much as possible … making it actually feel a little bit warm and friendly rather than your stereotypical clinical scene.”
Whakatāne Unichem Total health Pharmacy vaccinator Becky Li said there were “quite a few” people who got their first dose on Saturday.
“That’s the kind of target population we’re hoping to come out for their first dose.”
The pharmacy gave out cafe vouchers as incentives, which people were “very happy” with.
Labour MP Tamati Coffey at the Te Arawa drive-through vaccination centre in Rotorua. Photo / Andrew Warner
Bay of Plenty-based Labour MP Tamati Coffey delayed his second dose by a week to support Super Saturday and went to the Te Arawa drive-through hub in Rotorua to be vaccinated at midday.
“I did want to make it significant. I was due for my last one last week but I saved it for Super Saturday to join the rest of the country and contribute to the big goal of 100,000 vaccines across New Zealand. I wanted to be part of that.”
In a media statement on Saturday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Super Saturday had “exceed expectations” and had ensured New Zealand was more protected from Covid-19.
“The team of five million have turned out in record numbers to protect whānau and loved ones.
“Just as we stayed home last year to save lives, now we are getting vaccinated to protect the team of five million.”