Get vaccinated – medical services will not be able to cope if large numbers of people need hospital admission due to Covid-19, Karl Metzler says.
That was his message ahead of Super Saturday, this weekend’s nationwide vaccination push.
The Gore Health chief executive said it was inevitable Covid-19 would spread and become part of everyday life.
“That is when you run the risk of having to close the hospital because you have so many staff sick,” Mr Metzler said.
“We are not equipped to deal with it.”
General practices would be in a similar position.
Mr Metzler is co-leading the Southern District Health Board rollout of the Pfizer vaccine.
“It concerns me that nearly 30% of Gore are still yet to be vaccinated,” he said.
Compared with other areas, Gore was lagging behind.
“That is really disappointing.”
Sydney was a good example of what happened if people were unvaccinated.
“The unvaccinated filling the ICU is 82%.”
Figures from the United States showed 98.2 % of people who died from Covid-19 were unvaccinated, he said.
He encouraged people to be patient with those they knew who were reluctant to be vaccinated.
“Don’t criticise … it’s not helpful.
“We all have a job to encourage the uptake of the vaccine.”
It was also important people gained their information about the disease from credible sources, he said.
Gore New World owners Nicola and Simon Hollyer have dropped off items that will be used for spot prizes.
There will also be free food available at Gore’s two GP practices.
The Government announced its Super Saturday campaign last week, to bring attention to the 20% of people remaining unvaccinated in New Zealand, and get as many as possible vaccinated before Christmas.
Walk-in Covid-19 vaccinations will be available on Saturday at Gore’s two GP practices, as well as La Hood’s The Chemist and West Otago Health.
Vaccination appointments can also be made at any time on the Government’s bookmyvaccine.nz website or by phoning 0800282926.
The Gore district ranks 27th out of 63 regional and city council areas for the percentage of residents fully vaccinated.
Of those eligible to be vaccinated in the district, just under 55% have received both doses of the vaccination while just over 19.5% had received only one dose.
About one in every four residents over the age of 12 is yet to be vaccinated at all.
Gore is faring better than neighbouring Southland.
Southland is one of the worst districts in New Zealand for full vaccinations. There, just 46.6% of eligible people have had two doses and 27% have had one dose.
In Clutha, the full vaccination rate is better, at 51%, and 23% have had just one dose.
Across the Southern District Health Board area, 55% of those eligible have been fully vaccinated while 81% have had at least one shot.
Nationally 82% of those eligible have received one dose of the vaccine while 57% are fully vaccinated.
Gore Mayor Tracy Hicks encouraged residents to get vaccinated.
“Ultimately that is going to be the guardian for us in terms of staying safe.
“Covid is going to be with us for a long time to come.”
Each person had a responsibility to those around them, he said.
“It’s about the whole community making sure we are looking out for each other.”
Hokonui Runanga Kaitoko Matauranag Jo Brand urged people to get vaccinated.
“Whanau is important, Aotearoa is important.
“This is our generation’s war. Let’s get into it.
“For those who just haven’t got round to it, please get round to it now.”
Runanga staff were available to support people to overcome any barriers they had to getting vaccinated.
“We’re happy to sit down over a cup of tea and help you find what you need to know.”
A former Gore anti-vaxxer, who did not want to be named, said she initially resisted being vaccinated because she did not like being told what to do.
However, then she did some research.
“After reading the information I did think it was safe,” the woman said.
She started to think about what would happen if she got sick.
Her family had been planning a trip to Coromandel and what would happen if they brought the disease back played on her mind.
“Imagine if we brought it back here – we would be shunned.”
She also wanted to be able to go to events.
“I want to be free, I want to go to concerts, I want to go overseas and I don’t think we will be able to do anything unless we have had it.”