first patient vaccinated southern districts

The Southern District Health Board reached a major milestone in its rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination this week as it vaccinated some of the district’s most vulnerable people.

Residents at Presbyterian Support Southland Enliven Vickery Court, Invercargill, were delighted to receive their first dose of the vaccine this afternoon.

Vickery Court resident Wilma Capil, 82, said “it seemed the most sensible thing to do to protect not only myself but also the fellow residents and staff who, without them, we are so at risk, and they kept us so safe over the previous COVID lockdowns. I was probably the first to put my hand up to say ‘we need this”.

The facility was the first aged care residential home to receive the vaccine in the Southern District.

Michael Parker, PSS Chief Executive, said the vaccine rollout is really positive and he was pleased PSS Enliven the first aged care providers to receive the vaccination in the Southern district.

“When people are considering the vaccination they need to consider the wider implications of their decision on the vulnerable people in our society especially in Southland - we are close to tourist hot spots such as Queenstown and we have seen how quickly the virus can travel,” he said.

“We have seen the devastation that has been caused overseas in the aged care sector and we all remember the hardship caused by the COVID-19 lockdown and how hard that was on families who were not able to visit their loved ones. Our heart goes out to the families who lost loved ones during the lockdown that didn’t get the chance to say goodbye.”

Carol Riddle, Director of Enliven, said she was “excited and grateful” that staff and residents had been vaccinated at Vickery Court.

“It is such a milestone event for both our staff and residents to receive this after such a tough year with long periods of care home lockdown due to the virus, but we are over the moon the vaccination is now being rolled out to our frontline workers and vulnerable care home residents.”

Residents and staff at Elmslie House and Aspiring Enliven Care Centre in Wanaka will receive their vaccines on Sunday 18 April, followed by Ripponburn Rest Home, Cromwell on Saturday 24 April; Teviot Valley Rest Home, Roxburgh on Friday 30 April; and Maniototo Hospital Rest Home, Ranfurly on Saturday 1 May.

Hamish Brown, Southern DHB Covid-19 Vaccine Rollout Incident Controller, said the team were delighted with the progress of the vaccination programme so far.

“To have started vaccinating some of our community’s most vulnerable people is a really significant step in the vaccine rollout and we are excited to be broadening outreach to this group, working with our partners in Mental Health and the disability sectors, and reaching older Māori and Pacific people cared for by whanau in the coming weeks.”

The Southern district also hit a further milestone today, reaching the 10,000 mark for vaccinations delivered to border workers, frontline health workers and residents in aged residential care.

“This is a great start to our programme and gives us confidence as we work to scale up further,” Brown said.

“This has been a fantastic collective effort and we are grateful to our partners across the Southern health system, including WellSouth and primary care, general practices, the pharmacy sector, Māori health providers, rural hospitals, aged residential care providers and more, to reach our whole community and we thank everyone for their support and engagement in this work.”