NICK.BROOK@cluthaleader.co.nz

Inspired Faith Pasifika Church in Balclutha hosted a pop-up immunisation clinic on Monday to coincide with Aotearoa Immunisation Week.

Boostrix, MMR, HPV and influenza vaccinations were available along with Covid-19 boosters and health advice.

‘‘The public attitude towards Covid is relaxing but it is still there and it is still harming people,’’ Invercargill outreach team nurse Vicky Gwynn said.

Health centres around nation were co-ordinating to boost vaccination rates and spread awareness, including Clutha Health First.

‘‘Covid-19 case notifications at Clutha Health First continue to trickle in daily, with the next wave predicted in July,’’ team leader general practice nurse Andrea Sim said.

‘‘Prior preparation is an important part of preparing for winter illness, with immunisation against Covid-19 and the seasonal influenza vaccination being the best protection against serious illness.’’

She said protecting New Zealanders from Covid-19 continued to be a priority for the Ministry of Health, because of the virus’s ability to evolve and new variants emerging around the world.

‘‘Due to this, the need to move to a new framework of minimising and protection continues to be the aim in order to protect those who are most at risk of severe disease, as well as the health system.

‘‘Minimisation means that we are aiming to keep the spread of Covid-19 as low as possible, so while there will be some level of cases in the community on an ongoing basis, we will work to contain and control any outbreaks. ‘‘Protection means we won’t just treat Covid like a seasonal illness.

‘‘We will protect people from it with vaccination, active health measures including Rat [rapid antigen tests] testing if you are feeling unwell, and isolation if you test positive helps protect those who are most at risk and minimises the significant health impacts we know it can have,’’ Mrs Sim said.

On Wednesday, June 14, Clutha Health First General Practice and Well South will be holding a walk-in Covid-19 vaccination clinic at Cross Recreation Centre from 10am to 3pm.

Other vaccinations will also be available for those patients wishing to have an influenza vaccination, Bexsero (criteria applies) or measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR).

All appropriate shots were free to all patients at the Inspire Faith pop-up clinic, but nurse-manager Tevita Vungamoehi said the team particularly hoped to reach the Pasifika community.

‘‘There are many factors that put our Pasifika community at a higher risk,’’ he said.

‘‘If you catch flu and Covid at the same time there’s a high chance of you ending up in hospital . . . the message is: this is your chance to come out and get protected.’’

From May 1, the Covid-19 booster eligibility extended to everyone aged 30 and over from six months after their last Covid-19 vaccine dose or six months after a Covid-19 infection.