COVID-19: Race is on to get 90pct of eligible Aucklanders vaccinated in less than two weeks

By Rowan Quinn of RNZ

The race is on to get 90 percent of eligible Aucklanders vaccinated in less than two weeks.

The Government has said it wants the city to hit that milestone by the time it makes its alert level decision on October 4.

The city is already at 80 percent but those on the ground say the next 10 percent will be more challenging and will take some creative thinking.

Bader Drive Doctors was the latest group to be given two mobile buses to use for the on-the-ground roll out.

GP and clinic manager Siro Fuata'i said they would start tomorrow with a three-day pop up in the Māngere town centre - and have more planned.

The focus was getting the Pacific community, which was behind the rest of the population, to 90 percent.

"I'm very hopeful, I'm optimistic that we can get there, but it's going to be a real challenge for us," Fuata'i said.

Roughly 10,000 Aucklanders a day would need to get their first dose.

The latest figures, from Tuesday, showed 21,000 people had a shot but some were second doses.

Immunisation Advisory Centre director Nikki Turner said the target was a tall order but the fact the city had reached 80 percent in the last few weeks showed people were motivated.

The rates of vaccination in Auckland have been declining since a huge burst at the start of the outbreak.

Turner said it was a known phenomenon that the speed of a rollout tended to slow down after about 70 percent and it was important there were a lot of different ways for people to access a vaccination.

"The higher the coverage you get, the more effort you have to put into reaching out to more and more people," she said.

GP Rawiri Jansen, who helps run a large vaccination centre, said creativity and new ideas were crucial at this end of the rollout.

Vaccination buses had mostly been parked-up so far but he was keen to see some of them on the move.

"A van comes to a suburban street, and unpacks a gazebo, a few plastic chairs, and a bit of music from the siren kings across the road. It gets people to just come out of their houses and pay attention - 'that's interesting and, look, there's vaccinations right on my street'," Jansen said.

His network of GP clinics was focusing on contacting Māori patients to get them to come forward, with the rates still well behind the rest of the population.

A call from a trusted doctor would work well for some people, and many different methods would be needed, he said.

Pacific rates are still below the rest of the population but are improving.

Fuata'i said the large Assembly of God cluster was having an impact, with people seeing the virus strike very close to home.

His team was planning more pop-ups and was trying to work with businesses with large pacific populations.

Others were planning neighbourhood leaflet drops and visits to construction sites.

KFC said it had offered its sites to the Government if they wanted to use them.

The head of Auckland's vaccination programme, Anthony Jordan, said even though it was the final part of the race, it could seem like the longest part.

As people saw friends and families getting vaccinated, it helped create momentum and he hoped it would inspire those who had previously been holding off.