COVID-19: Thousands queue for jabs as vaccine rollout for kids kicks off

There was a rush for vaccines as five to 11-year-olds became eligible for a COVID jab on Monday.

By 1pm more than 3200 children had turned out to vaccination centres, GPs and pharmacies.

While there were some nerves and lots of face-pulling, most barely felt a thing.

Ten-year-old Deeane Clark didn't even realise when it was done.

"It felt like popping a pimple," said 11-year-old Lani Uluinayau.

Thousands queued to get immunised on the first day with cars lining up from 8:30am at the Eventfinda Stadium drive-through on the North Shore.

"Obviously people will want to get at least one dose in before kids go back to school, so this is kind of what we were expecting," says Northern Region Health Coordination Centre (NRHCC) clinical director Dr Anthony Jordan.

The children's vaccine is a third of the size of an adult dose and they use a smaller needle too.  The regime is for two doses, eight weeks apart.

"It's a discussion we've all had as a whanau," says mum Tammi Wilson Uluinayau.

"It's just about keeping us safe and to be able to enjoy a few more of those freedoms."

"We have health-compromised whanau, so it's important to keep them safe," adds Dee Clark, getting her daughters vaccinated.

"We're very engaged in sports so for the kids to stay actively involved with their sports as well and just know that if they do happen to get anything they won't be hit with the worst of it, they'll have some protection."

If you can't get to a drive-through, or don't want to queue, Starship paediatrician Dr Jin Russell says vaccines in schools may soon be an option too.

"It will be important to be able to use school sites where possible, that just makes sense because research has shown that if you open up school sites it reaches the hardest to reach communities," Dr Russell says.

"Having said that, no one's child is going to get vaccinated without their permission."

A survey found almost 70 percent of caregivers said they would have their five to 11-year-olds vaccinated.

At Papakura Marae there's no pressure.

"Absolutely important that we take the time necessary with our tamariki, for a lot of them they haven't had a shot, an injection, for a few years. We work at their pace," says CEO Tony Kake.

"We're pro-informed choice here at Papakura Marae so if they want more information, ring us up, come into the marae, we'll talk it through."