While Canterbury is on the precipice of 90 per cent of its eligible population receiving a first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, the West Coast continues to lag behind other South Island regions.
Ministry of Health data shows Canterbury now needs just over 5000 jabs to reach the first-dose target with 89 per cent of the eligible population having been jabbed once, ahead of the national average of 87 per cent.
However, any hope of freedom has been dampened by the West Coast who still lag behind with 79 per cent having received their first vaccination.
Almost 3000 West Coast residents will need to get vaccinated to get to 90 per cent.
* Covid-19: 14-year-old students get vaccinated while skipping class for hot chips
* Covid-19: ‘Bit of a push’ needed to reach 90 per cent vaccination rate
* Canterbury’s Labour Weekend goal teeters as 14,500 people need jab to hit 90% first doses
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern previously said the Government was open to moving the South Island into the new traffic-light system ahead of the rest of the country if all of its DHBs hit the target.
In Christchurch, Aranui had increased the number of residents receiving their first dose from 65.2 per cent to 68.7 per cent.
Ashley Gorge remained the second-lowest vaccinated area at 73.6 per cent, recording a 2.4 per cent increase on the previous week, while Pegasus Bay stayed the third-lowest vaccinated area at 73.8 per cent inoculated once – just a 1.5 per cent jump.
Amid concerns about low Māori vaccination rates,Canterbury recorded a second week of steady increases among its population with a 3.1 per cent increase in first vaccinations at 73.09 per cent, after an almost 5 per cent increase two weeks ago.
However, nationally Māori continue to be well behind the national average at just 70 per cent vaccinated once.
Overall, Canterbury now leads the South Island in vaccination rates with Southern DHB only just behind at 88 per cent, followed by Nelson/Marlborough on 86 per cent, and South Canterbury on 85 per cent.
Linwood ward councillor Yani Johanson expressed concerns about several trends in vaccination rates, including what he termed to be a “significant variation” in decile 9 and 10 areas compared to decile 1 and 2, coupled with the lower rates of vaccination among the Māori community.
“This means when Covid arrives in Christchurch, those who are most vulnerable are likely to be hit the hardest and this is incredibly alarming.”
Johanson said while a more community-based approach had made a positive impact on vaccination rates, there was a continued need for resources and urgency to improve the situation.
Canterbury DHB Senior Responsible Officer for the Covid-19 response, Dr Helen Skinner, said attendance at pop-up vaccination clinics in East Christchurch had been low in recent weeks.
One clinic held at Hampshire Street by the Aranui Community Trust on October 20 delivered just 18 vaccine doses, while a clinic held at Haeata Community Campus on the same day vaccinated eight people, she told Stuff.
“We’re urging anyone yet to receive their vaccinations to get vaccinated to not only protect their whānau, but so we can all enjoy everything a classic Kiwi summer has to offer.”
Pegasus Health Māori manager Melody Tuliau said staff were intending to phone about 13,000 Māori patients across the city who were yet to be vaccinated after they had previously focused on targeted patients in East Christchurch.
Pop-up vaccination clinics would be offered at several high schools and intermediate kura in coming weeks, with the first at Shirley Boys’ and Avonside Girls’ High Schools starting on Thursday.
But Tuliau was not confident a 90 per cent fully vaccinated target would be met among the city’s Māori community by Christmas.
“We’ve got to a sticky point where we’ve got to everybody who actively wants the vaccination. Now we’re looking to provide information to those who aren’t sure.”
Tuliau said misinformation was a big barrier for many people, particularly in youth who used social media platforms as information sources.
She said in hindsight the roll-out could have done better in the way information had been disseminated among different groups.
“It’s not as easy as just opening up a clinic and telling everyone to come.”
Whānau Ora Community Clinic founder George Ngatai said any effort to get Māori to engage with being vaccinated was important.
Ngatai said he was pleased that numbers among the Māori community were increasing.
“We have just got to go and do things that are not seen as normal, like door-knocking. We will be going all out in the next few weeks.”