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Clinics for vaccine ‘in their backyard’

“I want to play my part and help future-proof us — this is about the future. Covid-19 impacts on people.”

That is the response of Turanga Health chief executive Reweti Ropiha when asked why he has been vaccinated against Covid-19.

But he also has personal reasons.

“In my whakapapa lineage, especially my dad’s whanau, many suffered during the 1918 influenza epidemic.”

His father came from a family of 15.

“Only seven lived.”

Turanga Health has been rolling out the Covid-19 vaccine throughout its rohe.

The provider’s approach has been to look and learn, Mr Ropiha said.

“We try to take small steps at a time before we gear up and go out to the public.

“It gives us a blueprint, and we have tested our capabilities, before we go to the public.”

Mr Ropiha said it was important to have and understand a process that was easy to replicate, and easy for the person getting the vaccine.

“It takes 35 minutes.

“You’ve got the enrolment, the vaccination, the 20-minute compulsory wait and the exit.”

Mr Ropiha said the 20-minute waiting period was an opportunity for a conversation.

“It’s a time for ‘how’s it going’ to the person being vaccinated.

“Smiles are free.”

How the vaccination goes “sets us up for the second vaccine shot”.

Mr Ropiha said there was much information in the public arena, some which contributed to vaccine hesitancy.

Turanga Health is restricting itself to two forms of communication — Facebook and face-to-face.

“We go out to where the people are.”

Examples include Cedenco, Leaderbrand and different marae.

“We’ve got to get out there rather than sit at one space where no one turns up.

“You are in their space.”

Mr Ropiha said Turanga Health was looking to host Covid-19 vaccine clinics “right in the backyard — in Muriwai, Manutuke, Waituhi, Makaraka.”

Flexibility was key.

Some people worked and would not be available at normal hours.

Vaccinators might have to operate from 5pm to 8pm, or early in the morning.

A mobile vaccination facility would include generators for back-up and fridges for the vaccines.

A korero with those who had already been vaccinated, and were trusted in their community, could influence others.

Mr Ropiha said the idea was to get people from the community to the forefront, along with clinicians.

They were people who could go to a person’s front door and say “it wasn’t that bad”.

“I believe that is a gamechanger.

“Covid is about two shots.

“So that first shot is important.”

THE FIRST SHOT: Turanga Health chief executive Reweti Ropiha receives his first Covid-19 vaccine shot from Avenir Maurirere while nurse Amanda Humphris stands by. Mr Ropiha say Turanga Health is being innovative in its Covid-19 immunisation programme. Picture by Liam Clayton