Thu, Sep 30, 2021 6:00 PM

Police bus turned into Covid vaccination clinic

Vaccinator Yvonne Murray and driver Jo MacLean set up a mobile vaccination clinic in the Richmond Mall carpark last Thursday. Photo: Jenny Nicholson.

Jenny Nicholson

A police booze bus has been transformed from testing drink drivers to fighting Covid-19, as part of Nelson Marlborough Health’s efforts to boost vaccination rates in the region.

NMH principal advisor emergency management Pete Kara says the bus has been repurposed and is already doing great work in the community.

“It makes it easier to take the clinic to the people,” says Pete.

Nelson Bays Primary Health general manager primary care, Charlotte Etheridge, says they are thinking outside the square regarding locations.

“We are using bite size times and locations to try and give people opportunity to be vaccinated,” she says.

“We are looking at where people are at the beginning and end of the day, because often they are at work or at home with family during the day.”

Pop-up clinics were available in the Richmond Mall carpark on Wednesday and Thursday. Charlotte says about 25 people were vaccinated over the two days and though they are not large numbers, the bus was about giving locals more opportunity to be vaccinated.

“That number may seem small, but it was all first doses,” she says. “That’s a big win for us.”

Latest Ministry of Health figures available through Stats New Zealand show that three quarters of those eligible in the Top of the South region have received at least one vaccine.

At 76.9 per cent we come in fourth for those aged 12 and older who have received one vaccination, with Capital and Coast and Hutt leading the way at 80.1 per cent.
The bus is also being used for rural pop-ups in St Arnaud and Tapawera.

The St Arnaud pop-up is on 1 October from 10am to 2pm at Lake Rotoiti Community Hall.

A clinic in The Wakefield Hall on 17 October already has more than 400 people booked in.

Wakefield Pharmacy’s Scott Fry says most of the bookings are second doses, but they have capacity to book much more. He estimates they could do about 700 vaccines.

“We would prefer bookings but will take walk-ins,” he says. “Combining the doctors and the pharmacy means we have a bigger capacity.”

The clinic on Queen Street is also continuing to take walk-ins.

Another initiative to increase vaccination accessibility has been put in place by the Tasman District Council (TDC), along with Nelson City Council.

They are offering free bus rides to vaccination clinics and the free ride also applies to caregivers and dependents of those being vaccinated.

“Free bus rides are for everyone, they must have proof of appointment and the free travel is for that day only,” says TDC communications and change manager Chris Choat.

Plans are also in place for clinics after school at Nelson College this week and Charlotte Etheridge says they are working with other schools to find a time that would suit them.