Island vaccines take to the skies

Dr Claire Isham, GP Liaison Lead for the Bay of Plenty DHB’s COVID-19 vaccine team; with vaccinator Margaret Tunbridge-Ross, RN. Photo: Supplied.

Covid-19 vaccines have become airborne to reach residents of Mōtītī Island.

The Bay of Plenty District Health Board collaborated with vaccination providers and the residents of Mōtītī Island to deliver a “fly-in, drive-through” Covid-19 vaccination clinic on the island, which is nine kilometres off the mainland coast.

“The protection the Covid-19 vaccine offers us is incredibly important,” says Bay of Plenty DHB Covid-19 incident controller Trevor Richardson.

“Our team are working creatively to ensure we offer it to all of the diverse populations of Te Moana ā Toi.”

The DHB says it administered 13 doses of the vaccine on the island at this clinic during the first week. Many of those were the first dose of the vaccine the Mōtītī residents had received. Two doses of the Pfizer vaccine are required in order to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

“It’s important that we offer the vaccine to everyone in the Bay of Plenty, most especially our vulnerable, hard-to-reach communities with high Māori populations,” says Trevor.

The island closed itself to visitors when New Zealand entered alert level four on August 17. The vaccine clinic was cause for the first passenger flight to touch down on the island in two weeks.

“Our team is firmly focussed on an equitable delivery of the vaccine rollout in the district,” says Trevor.

“Collaboration with our community is critical to the success of the vaccine rollout.”

Another visit to Mōtītī Island to administer second doses of the vaccine is planned for later in September.

“We know that Mōtītī residents want to feel safe when returning to the mainland, so we’ll continue to make getting the vaccine as easy and accessible as possible."

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