Pakuranga pharmacy starts Covid jabs

Pharmacist Yan Gao administers a Covid 19 vaccine to Sharon Adams at Unichem Pharmacy in Pakuranga as they commence their vaccination roll out. Times photo Wayne Martin

A pharmacy in Pakuranga has become the first to provide Covid-19 vaccinations in Auckland.

In April 2021 Director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield confirmed the Ministry of Health is not considering pharmacies as Covid-19 vaccination sites.

This has been rectified as of July as Covid-19 vaccinations are expected to ramp up for general practices and pharmacies.

Pakuranga Unichem is among them.

On June 11 Unichem opened their doors for vaccinations. They are focusing on designated groups with 65+ being the priority. They have vaccinated about 1000 people.

Unichem has previously worked with ethnic community groups and leaders to provide vaccinations and support to members of the public.

They participated in a free influenza vaccination service, Community Flu Fighters, which was delivered by pharmacists and targeted people aged over 65 from the Asian community in the Counties Manukau Health District.

“We’ve done a lot with the community,” Vicky Chan, the centre manager, says. “We have a wonderful relationship with them.”

Chan and her team hope to remove barriers with the help of previously established relationships with the community. Chan says community members can get stuck behind a language barrier and confusion.

“They know us,” Chan says. “We know them. So there’s a level of trust and communication there.”

Some community members find it difficult to reach the pharmacy.

“We work with community leaders to transport them here,” Chan says.

“We’ve worked with Shanti Niwas, Bhartiya Samaj and the Korean Positive Ageing Charitable Trust. They’ve all be wonderful and helpful.”

Additionally, Chan and her team wish to educate their patients and the wider community on misinformation and any confusion they may have.

“There’s a circulation of misinformation,” Chan says. “We want to abate any concerns.”