Coronavirus: Vaccines available on sideline of Saturday rugby in Ruatoria as Jacinda Ardern continues East Coast blitz

Saturday rugby in Ruatoria was a little bit different today, with COVID-19 vaccines available on the sideline.  

The Prime Minister was there as part of a three-day vaccination blitz around the East Coast.

Forget the half time oranges, today there were halftime vaccines. This Ruatoria rugby match was Saturday sport with plenty at stake off the field.

"Yeah, nah, worked out good. Got two things at once. The vaccine and watched the rugby, so I am happy," one person said. 

The Ngāti Porou East Coast women’s team took on Eastern Bay of Plenty while supporters on the sideline were busy tackling the pandemic.

"The response has been awesome, yeah more than I expected actually, but I think it’s because we’re at home, and just about in the family's doorways!" said Adrianne Olsen Hovell of Ngāti Porou Hauora.

Even players took advantage of the pop-up vaccination, many getting their first shot.

"Lots of firsts today which is awesome and the age group is sort of 29 up which is a group that we really need," said Hovell.

There was an extra supporter in the light blue for Saturday's game with the visit all part of the Prime Minister’s three-day East Coast tour to support local vaccination efforts. She's travelling through Murupara, Hastings, Gisborne and finishing in Ruatoria.

"This is about highlighting that we need high vaccination rates in every corner of New Zealand," Jacinda Ardern said.

Friday saw a record for Māori vaccination rates, with 10,283 doses given - the highest daily number to date. 

Plenty of Ruatoria locals are well and truly vaxxed. Some are worried about COVID soon reaching them.

The Ngāti Porou East Coast men didn’t miss out. Their game up the road had a vaccination bus.

It was a COVID-19 vaccination rollout in the truest New Zealand style at Saturday rugby.

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