Covid vaccination centre shutting its doors

The Highbrook Covid-19 vaccination centre will close on December 19. Times photo Wayne Martin

East Auckland’s biggest Covid-19 vaccination centre will soon shut as health officials divert resources toward outreach events in other areas.

Since the Highbrook vaccination centre opened in early March, its staff has administered more than 121,000 doses of Pfizer’s Covid vaccine to people.

However, with almost 90 per cent of Auckland residents now fully vaccinated, the city’s vaccination programme is transitioning to a community-based outreach approach intended to make it easier for people to get jabbed.

The shift in focus means four of the city’s community vaccinations centres, including Highbrook, will close, with staff being redeployed to support the outreach efforts of district health board and Maori and Pacific partner providers.

The Highbrook vaccination centre will close permanently on December 19.

The new approach will see more than 100 vaccine pop-up events leading up to Christmas in locations ranging from schools to stadiums and community centres.

Dozens more primary care providers are preparing to be part of the vaccination programme joining the more than 200 general practices and 120-plus community pharmacies already offering Covid vaccinations in the city.

Northern Region Health Co-ordination Centre vaccination programme director Matt Hannant says with more than 300 primary care sites now providing vaccinations, there’s capacity to deliver booster shots from later this month.

That can be done while freeing up staff to do more local events and outreach work, such as in-home vaccinations and visits to boarding houses, he says.

“People have been responding really well to local events led by community and school leaders, as well as the street-by-street approach for our campervans and buses.

“We know people have busy lives, particularly now they’re returning to work and school, so it’s even more important that we can take vaccinations out to them to make it quick and easy.”

The drive-through vaccination site at Auckland Airport’s park-and-ride will remain open until at least March 2022.

Hannant says the vaccination progress to date has been “phenomenal” but the task of keeping all Aucklanders protected from Covid-19 isn’t over.

“We encourage everyone who hasn’t had a vaccination, or is due a second dose, to head down to a local event or your local GP or pharmacy and get vaccinated ready for summer.

“This will enable you to enjoy everything the Auckland region has to offer as soon as we move to the new traffic light system, from haircuts and cafes through to gyms and music events.”

People who have difficulties accessing vaccination sites due to transportation or mobility issues can phone 0800 28 29 26.

Details of upcoming events where people can be vaccinated across Auckland are online at www.vaccinateforauckland.nz.