Clinics ensuring no-one is left behind


Alliance Group’s Pukeuri plant has started rolling out Covid-19 vaccinations for staff.

About 100 workers received their first vaccination at the plant last week, in a joint initiative between Alliance and Oamaru’s North End Health Centre. The staff will receive their second vaccination at the plant in six weeks’ time.

Pukeuri plant manager Phil Shuker said the company was committed to keeping its staff and the North Otago community safe.

By offering a clinic at the plant’s medical centre, staff who wanted to be vaccinated could do so without having to travel off-site, Mr Shuker said. About 1000 people were employed at the Pukeuri plant at present, and the company was exploring options with local healthcare providers for other staff who had not already had vaccinations.

Mr Shuker said the health and wellbeing of staff was “paramount” and alternative ways of working had been introduced at the plant to fight the spread of Covid-19, in line with Meat Industry Association and Ministry for Primary Industries protocols.

“This includes physical distancing, further increased cleaning/disinfection of processing areas, the use of personal protective equipment and closing our sites to non-essential people,” he said.

“We’re really proud of our people, who are once more stepping up in tough times in the best interests of the country.”

Another 240 Waitaki residents, largely from the growing Maori and Pasifika communities, received Covid vaccinations at a community-led clinic in Oamaru on Friday and Saturday last week.

The Oamaru Pacific Island Community Group (OPICGG), working with Tumai Ora Whanau Services, the Waitaki Multicultural Council, Oamaru Hospital, Southern DHB, and WellSouth Primary Health Network, organised and ran the clinics at the St Paul’s Church hall.

Vaccinators came from WellSouth and Oamaru Hospital and were supported by local clinicians Robyn Keno and Peter Rodwell.

Tumai Ora Whanau Services kaiwhakatere Awhina Akurangi said the clinic had reached people in pockets of the hapori (community) who might not have otherwise got vaccinated. It was also great to support the district’s rural community, with many people from the forestry, shearing and dairy industries getting their first vaccinations at last week’s clinic, Ms Akurangi.

“I feel the clinic’s approach has helped dissipate the fear for whanau and aided in the decision to come forward to be vaccinated.

“The presence of our informed rangatahi (youth) encouraged their peers to have the conversations and come in.”

OPICG general manager Hana Halalele said the decision to run the clinics was based on requests from the local Pasifika and Maori communities, particularly as many of them worked during the week and could not get to other clinics.

For Mrs Halalele, the community-led clinics were important for Pacific people to be connected, resilient and successful and for their culture and identities to be nourished.

“Initiating work in our Pacific and Maori communities, and role modelling best Pacific and whanau-based practice, helps bring about the change we need to see so no-one is left behind.”

WellSouth associate Maori health officer Peter Ellison said the clinic was a collaborative effort that built on relationships and trust in the community.

“We recognise it is vital to make the Covid-19 vaccine available in an environment where people feel welcome and comfortable and delivered by their own community members.

“We will continue with this approach to reaching unvaccinated populations, and supporting providers wherever they need us.”