The Covid-19 immunisation programme has started in Waikato with a group of Hamilton nurses the first to receive the vaccine.
At a dedicated Covid-19 vaccination centre in Hamilton on Thursday afternoon, 28 vaccinators received the first of their two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
From Friday, the vaccinators will begin the process of immunising the workforce on-site at all Waikato managed isolation facilities.
The first to receive the vaccine in the Waikato was public health nurse Dawn Tamati, who was honoured to go first.
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“I feel quite privileged to be the first one to get the vaccine, Tamati said.
I truly believe in immunisations, they’re so important, and I feel like I’m doing my part. Immunisations are about keeping our whnau, our hapu, our iwi and our communities well, and I feel like I’m doing that today.”
Leanne Smith administered the first injection and says it was “quite an honour” to do it.
The ultra-cold freezers for storing the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine can get down to -80 degrees Celsius.
“It’s been such a wait for something that we’ve all wanted and to actually start vaccinating is exciting. I felt humbled to be asked to be the first in Waikato to give the vaccine.”
She said the arrival of the vaccine is a significant milestone for the country and the region.
“We’re making history, and it is something our whnau will talk about for many, many generations.”
The first stage of the vaccine rollout includes border workers and the managed isolation and quarantine workforce, and their household contacts.
Ikimoke Tamaki-Takarei manages cultural intervention for the region’s managed isolation facilities and also received his first dose today.
He said it’s critical for border workers to be the first line of protection for the communities and vulnerable populations.
“As part of border control for Covid-19, it’s our responsibility to keep our families safe. We go home to our families every night. I return home to my new mokopuna, so it’s my responsibility to keep her safe, to keep my children safe, and my immediate family safe,” Tamaki-Takarei said.
“A lot of our vulnerable whnau and our kaumatua suffer from some sort of respiratory illness, so we have to be able to protect them by getting a vaccine.”
Household contacts of managed isolation workers will receive their immunisations by appointment at the dedicated vaccination centre.