Village health clinics to close as government prepares for vaccination rollout

Thursday 6 May 2021 | Written by Caleb Fotheringham | Published in Health, National

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Village health clinics to close as government prepares for vaccination rollout
Health secretary Bob Williams. 21012914

Most puna clinics will close for about 10 weeks from May 10 for staff to assist with the vaccine rollout, says Te Marae Ora Ministry of Health (TMO).

Normal services will remain at the main hospital and Tupapa Outpatients. The two puna clinics that will still be in operation are the Tupapa Clinic for dressings only, and Nikao Clinic for normal services.

Health secretary Bob Williams has confirmed the vaccination roll-out will happen this month but did not say whether it will start before the commencement of two-way quarantine free travel with New Zealand on May 16.

Quarantine free travel communications coordinator Karla Eggelton said further details on when the vaccine will happen will be provided early next week.

Eggelton said front-line workers such as customs, airport staff and frontline health workers will be the priority for vaccination. She said further information on the rollout will be given next week.

People living in the Cook Islands over the age of 16 are eligible for the Pfizer vaccination.

Secretary Williams said: “The vaccine will be free, and it is the Pfizer vaccine being made available by New Zealand. The Pfizer vaccine has been shown to be around 95 per cent effective at preventing you from getting seriously ill if you catch Covid-19, once you’ve received both doses of the vaccine.”

A total of 217,603 people in New Zealand have received a single Pfizer vaccine and over 87,000 are fully vaccinated with both shots.

Williams said: “Once again we owe thanks to our New Zealand friends not just for this life-saving vaccine, but for the help and protection we have been afforded by the actions taken by New Zealand to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in New Zealand, and therefore providing a buffer for us too.”

In a statement, Te Marae Ora said as part of the Cook Islands vaccine deployment plan, from May 10 most of their puna clinics will close for about 10 weeks, through until the end of June, to allow nurses and puna staff to be mobilised to help facilitate the vaccine roll out and maintain normal services up at the main hospital and at the Tupapa Outpatient as well as Public Health services.

However, people who require medical attention are encouraged to go to the Tupapa Outpatients and Emergency Department (Tupapa OPED) from Monday, May 10 until further notice “if you’re ill and need medical attention”.

Anyone with cold, flu or Covid-19 symptoms, is encouraged to call 20065 or 20066 for medical advice before going to the Tupapa OPED.

Te Marae Ora will provide a further update on the vaccination roll-out programme for the whole of the Cook Islands once both governments have made a public announcement “in the next week or so” on when the Cook Islands will receive the vaccine from New Zealand.