Taking vaccines to Auckland’s disabled school community
Students from two of Auckland’s largest specialist schools have stepped up with pride to have their vaccinations done with the support of the Northern Region Health Coordination Centre (NRHCC) outreach team.
Sommerville School in the Auckland suburb of Panmure (one of New Zealand’s largest specialist schools) and Parkside School in Pukekohe cater for students aged five to 21 years with complex social, physical and educational needs.
On Tuesday, the NRHCC’s outreach team visited Somerville School, vaccinating 80 students and their families. Today the team moved on to Parkside to vaccinate almost 200 students and their whānau across the school’s two bases.
Sommerville Principal Belinda Johnston said: “We’ve got some very happy families who couldn’t have had their children vaccinated without this opportunity.”
Johnston said a lot of her students have anxiety and would have struggled to go to a large vaccination centre because of that.
“For some, being in an unfamiliar situation doesn’t help their anxiety levels, so being able to have them here in a friendly, quiet environment where they are supported is just amazing.”
Johnston paid tribute to the NRHCC outreach team members working onsite and administering the doses.
“The staff have been incredible. They’ve been flexible when they’ve needed to and put the needs of our students first – making them feel at ease.”
Carol Willard, Principal at Pukekohe’s Parkside School, was just as delighted to give her children and their whānau the opportunity to be vaccinated in a place they know and trust.
“Parkside School is just so grateful to have had this opportunity for our wonderful students because most would not cope undertaking this process in an unfamiliar environment. Instead we have happy, smiling students being vaccinated in the comfort of the classroom and with their families and familiar staff beside them. It was wonderful to see.
“Our staff and the outreach team have been amazing and everyone has worked so well together to realise this opportunity.”
NRHCC Disability Lead Katie Daniel said while Auckland’s main vaccination centres do offer good accessibility for people with disabilities, taking the vaccination programme to the specialist school communities enables students to be vaccinated in a familiar, safe environment.
“The schools we are working with are really supportive and want to make it as easy as possible for their students and family members to get vaccinated,” Daniel said.
“It’s been a true collaboration and one we are thrilled to be part of.”