AT 11.01am on November 18 a big cheer went up at Tūranga Health, and that wasn't just because the Prime Minister was in the whare.
The team just learned that Tairāwhiti's first-dose Covid-19 vaccination rates had ticked over to 84 percent . . . a step closer to the 90 percent target.
Ms Ardern said she, Associate Minister for Health Peeni Henare, East Coast MP Kiri Allan and Ikaroa-Rawhiti MP Meka Whaitiri had returned to the region to help boost the numbers of whānau receiving the Covid-19 vaccination, and to acknowledge all the hard mahi that had gone on in te Tairāwhiti.
“What you (Tūranga Health) bring is not just local knowledge and experience, but also the emotion. You bring that because this is your region, your people, that you are talking about.
“I am back here today because Tairāwhiti is one of those areas where the work being done is so important, and we are so grateful for all you are doing.”
The Prime Minister wanted to see 90 percent vaccination across the country but on the day of her visit to Gisborne, only 84 percent of the region's population had received their first dose, while 72 percent had their second.
With only 2588 first jabs required to reach 90 percent, Ms Ardern said the region was so close, “we just have to keep going”.
Whatever happened, the unvaccinated in the community also deserved protection and that was why the country was moving to the traffic light system, Ms Ardern added.
The traffic light system offers more layers of protection but opens up the border to Covid-affected areas north of Gisborne and experts say that could have devastating effect, especially for Maori, who already make up around half of active cases.
And with tamariki aged 11 and under not yet able to be vaccinated, low vaccination rates in their communities mean they are most at risk of both contracting and spreading the virus.
Tūranga Health chief executive Reweti Ropiha says that's just one of the reasons why his organisation is working so hard to boost vaccination rates.
Tūranga Health's vaccine engine room fired up in March and they haven't stopped since, Mr Ropiha told the visiting Ministers.
The Tūranga Health approach to Covid-19 reflects on the lessons of yesterday and looks at the mahi of today to inform what we do in the future, Mr Ropiha said.
“In absolutely everything we do, our focus is not just on today, but on the generations of tomorrow.”
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