Auckland’s second drive-through Covid vaccination centre opens today as the country ramps up its push towards getting most of the population jabbed.
New Zealand entered lockdown and its latest battle to contain Covid last week having one of the lowest vaccination rates in the developed world.
Since then, the country has detected 148 confirmed cases of the Delta variant but also hit record daily vaccination numbers.
That included passing the one million mark on Sunday and hitting one day vaccination numbers higher than 60,000 people.
Auckland’s first drive-through centre also opened on Sunday near the airport with aims to vaccinate more than 2000 people a day by allowing them to get jabbed without leaving their cars or bubbles.
Now the city’s second drive-through vaccination centre opens today in West Auckland at Trusts Arena in Henderson.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern last week said she hoped the outbreak would encourage more people to get vaccinated.
“I think from what we’ve seen in Australia, it has caused a bit of an uptick in take-up. We want to use the opportunity, if we can, to safely vaccinate people in the interim.”
Getting as many people vaccinated as possible remains the best path forward to opening New Zealand up to the rest of the world, health officials say.
But it hasn’t been a smooth path so far.
Not only has New Zealand lagged behind other developed nations in rolling out its vaccination programme, but vaccination centres were also temporarily closed for 48 hours when the nation went into lockdown last Wednesday.
Ardern said at the time it was to reduce the risk of the virus spreading and protect the safety of both those coming in for vaccines and those administering them.
Some centres remained closed for longer as staff at those facilities were redirected to help at Covid testing sites as Aucklanders, in particular, rushed to get tested in the days after the city went into lockdown.
Some people who had been at locations of interest, waited all day in line at testing sites only to be turned away when the sites closed for the day.
Some also have been waiting up to four days to get their Covid test results back from inundated laboratories.
Despite that, the nation’s vaccination rates have seen an upsurge.
Vaccination appointments are now open to New Zealanders aged 30-plus, and their children aged 12-15.
Everyone over the age of 12 will be eligible to book their vaccine from September 1.
On Monday, 63,333 vaccine doses were given out.
Drive-through centres are also open in Wellington and Dunedin.
Ishrana Usman, 15, was among the first to line up for a jab at the drive-through centre at a former Park and Ride facility near Auckland Airport.
The invitation-only initiative was aimed at essential workers like bus drivers and supermarket staff, who are still working during lockdown.
Aorere College student Ishrana said her vaccination was less painful than she expected.
“It was alright, I thought it would be more painful.”
She described the process as “very fast” and the staff were quite friendly.
Those wanting a jab at either of Auckland’s drive-through centres are asked to come in their family bubble with children older than 12 and in car loads of two to four people.
Those coming alone couldn’t receive the vaccination.
People also needed to keep the arm they wanted to be injected in closest to the car window.
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