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Push To Lift Vaccination Rates On The South Island’s West Coast

The West Coast District Health Board, the region’s three Mayors and other well-known locals are joining forces to urge West Coasters to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Vaccination staff from neighbouring DHBs are also lending their support to the Coast and a new campaign C’mon Coasters is being launched to help lift the region’s vaccination rates which are among the lowest in New Zealand.

Latest data from the Ministry of Health shows that as at 11.59pm on Wednesday 3 November 82% of the eligible population had had their first vaccination, with 69% fully vaccinated.

We need just over 2,000 people (2170) to have their first vaccination and we’ll hit the 90% first dose mark.

West Coast District Health Board chair Rick Barker says those numbers need to be lifted and there’s an intense effort underway to do so.

“It doesn’t seem like a large number of vaccinations we need to give to reach 90% of eligible people of the Coast, however this means covering communities from Karamea to Jackson’s Bay - they’re seven hours apart which makes a lot of travelling and work for your DHB team to make vaccinations accessible to everyone on the Coast,” he said.

“The 24 additional staff from Canterbury and Southern DHBs who arrived this week provide welcome support to bolster the local vaccination team. We now have the capacity to get the job done. The rest is up to us to roll our sleeves up protect our families and our communities,” says Mr Barker.

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West Coast DHB General Manager and Senior Responsible Officer for the vaccination rollout on the Coast, Phil Wheble says the C’mon Coasters campaign is about locals encouraging locals to lift vaccination rates across the region. It takes a community to vaccinate a community and we’re calling on locals to support their friends, whānau, neighbours and colleagues to do the right thing.

“It’s about keeping people well. Vaccination saves lives, it’s as simple as that. If you want to live your life your way, vaccination is your ticket to freedom,” Phil Wheble said.

Buller Mayor Jamie Cleine says it is critical more Coasters get vaccinated.

“I got vaccinated because we need to think about the community and the risk of overloading our health system.

“As a farmer and a Mayor it is important to take all the steps I can to protect myself and the people I work with, that in itself was a good reason to get vaccinated”

“Our community has been very fortunate to date with no COVID cases for a year and minimal lockdowns. We’re entering a new phase of the pandemic and it’s no longer realistic to think we can remain COVID free. Vaccination is the best way each of us can help the community.”

His thoughts are echoed by Grey District Mayor Tania Gibson.

“We are all over COVID-19 interfering with normal life and our plans, events are being cancelled like the Hits Christmas Concert which is a real shame for the kids leading up to Christmas.

“C’mon Coasters, you know what you have to do, two jabs three weeks apart and we can start moving on,” says Mayor Gibson.

Westland Mayor Bruce Smith says those who haven’t been vaccinated really need to think about their choice.

“You might think you have a valid reason for not being vaccinated – but Delta doesn’t give a hoot what you think, just look at how many unvaccinated people have become seriously ill and died.”

COVID-19 Programme Manager, Helen Gillespie says there are a number of reasons behind the West Coast’s lower turnout.

“Part of the challenge is logistical – this is one of the biggest regions in New Zealand and not everyone lives close to clinics. We’re addressing that with mobile and pop up clinics with some now open 7 days a week.

Local businessman Tony Kokshoorn is also urging locals to roll up their sleeves and really think about where they’re getting their information from.

“I’ve seen a lot of rubbish on social media and heard plenty of nonsense in the pub about the vaccine. There’s no evidence to back this talk. The reality is COVID is in New Zealand and it will spread fast through the West Coast if we don’t lift our vaccination rates. I’ve seen the Coast battle a lot of tragedies – COVID is one we can avoid,” says Kokshoorn.

The C’mon Coasters campaign will use a variety of tools to promote its message, including adverts, social media, posters and billboards. To view some of the posters created for the campaign click here.

Anyone wanting information on the vaccination programme on the Coast can find it at https://vaccinatecanterburywestcoast.nz/

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