Coronavirus: Auckland vaccine rollout extends to Group 3, invitations start going out this week

Over-65s in Auckland will get their invitation to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of this week, local health officials say.

The rest of Aucklanders in Group 3 - the disabled, their carers, anyone who's pregnant or has an underlying health condition - will get their call-up by "mid-July". 

"The invitations are being issued in a phased approach and you'll receive the invitation automatically, so you don't need to do anything until you receive your invitation," said Matt Hannant, director of the Auckland COVID-19 vaccine programme at the Northern Region Health Coordination Centre (NRHCC). 

To date the Auckland region - covering areas served by the Waitematā, Auckland and Counties Manukau district health boards (DHBs) - has administered more than 300,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, out of the country's total of 775,444.

Another 110,000 people will get texts or email invites by Friday, Hannant said. 

"We encourage you to click on the link and make your booking online as soon as you receive the invitation. Our centres are busy, so please be aware you may need to book a few weeks out. We have a range of centres available across Auckland, so if your nearest centre is busy you can also check our other centres nearby for availability."

Some over-65s would already have been invited to get the jab as part of Group 2, which included those living in the Counties Manukau DHB area which covers south Auckland. 

The rest of Group 3 - about 164,000 people - will get their invites in a "phased approach over the next month to help manage capacity at centres".

At present there are eight community vaccination centres, with four more to open by the end of the month - Albany, Tamaki, Pukekohe and Takanini. Pharmacies and GPs are starting to offer the vaccine too, the NRHCC said, without about 10 GPs coming on board each week. People will have a choice whether to get the jab at their GP, if it's on offer, or at a vaccination centre. 

"The COVID-19 vaccination is safe and free," said Auckland Mayor Phil Goff, who got his first jab last week. "I encourage everyone to respond to the invitation and get vaccinated when they have an opportunity."

DHBs in the Auckland area have administered the most doses, but are slightly behind schedule compared to the rest of the country - at just 90 percent of target, compared to the country's 110 percent as a whole. 

"Getting vaccinated will keep ourselves, our families and our communities safe from COVID-19 and will help ensure that we can continue to go about our daily lives as normal without lockdowns and health restrictions," said Goff. 

Hannant said anyone in Group 2 who hasn't been contacted for a vaccine yet should call 0800 282926.