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COVID-19 Protection Is A Family Affair As Waikato Records 900,000 Vaccine Milestone

Waikato reached a COVID-19 milestone this week when a 7-year-old Meremere boy received the 900,000th vaccination to be administered in the Waikato DHB area at the West Hamilton Pharmacy in Nawton.

It’s been a family affair all round as Noah Wallace has joined three of his siblings to have had his second COVID-19 vaccination – and at the family-owned West Hamilton Pharmacy run by pharmacist Sanjay Joshi with his pharmacy technician wife Shobha, and pharmacist son Nachiket.

Noah’s mother Lisa Wallace says she brought her children to Hamilton to get their first vaccination when Auckland was in lockdown and they couldn’t cross the border northwards, and they repeated the trip for the second vaccination.

“I’m happy my children are now fully-protected,” she says.

West Hamilton Pharmacy has administered a total of 5,452 COVID-19 vaccinations, including 192 for children, since taking up the challenge last year.

Sanjay Joshi says he has made a special effort to develop a rapport with the people he’s vaccinating, especially the children.

“As a pharmacist we are like a microphone carrying health messages to our community, so it’s really important that we use that microphone in the right way to be caring and sensitive to the person who is in front of you,” he says.

He takes care to create a good atmosphere, giving children a sticker and a lollipop and engaging them in conversation about their favourite cartoon characters so that some are even unaware they’ve actually had their vaccination.

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“I never realised this was my forte, but I seem to have earned a reputation,” he says, as the pharmacy has attracted families from as far away as Raglan as well as Meremere.

Sanjay says the pharmacy has been administering vaccinations for anyone eligible for a free flu vaccination for the past five years, and decided to join in the COVID-19 vaccination effort because “everyone can be safe if everyone who can is vaccinated.”

He hopes more families make sure their children are vaccinated.

Sanjay says he and pharmacist son Nachiket make a great team as 35-year-old Nachiket is very good at the technical issues associated with administering the vaccine, including the precise preparation required and the work required to record each vaccination on the national COVID-19 immunisation register.

In the Waikato DHB, 93.5% of people aged 12+ have been double-vaccinated for COVID-19. Pasifika people aged 12+ in Waikato DHB are 96.2% double-vaccinated, and Māori aged 12+ have reached 88.1% double-vaccinated with 91.6% having had their first dose. Boosters have so far been delivered to 68.8% of the eligible population.

Waikato DHB COVID-19 Directorate Executive Lead Maree Munro says, “We’re delighted to have reached this milestone, and to have had the support of so many dedicated people to get here, but we still have some distance to go to protect our whole community.

“Getting a full course of the COVID-19 vaccination is still the best protection against serious infection,” she says. “Even if you have already caught COVID-19, the Ministry of Health is urging people to finish getting vaccinated so they can be protected as much as possible against a second wave of the current outbreak or a new variant.”

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