Ninety-three-year-old Ben Tientjes is a “great believer in vaccines” and says getting the Covid-19 vaccination will ensure everyone is kept safe.
Residents and staff of Kawerau’s Mountain View rest home were given their first round of the vaccine on Wednesday and Mr Tientjes never considered refusing it.
“Getting the vaccine is all to your own advantage,” he says.
“You should get the vaccine, not only for yourself, but for everyone around you as well. If you have the vaccine that means you won’t be spreading Covid around.”
Mr Tientjes says he has seen how vaccines can make a difference in communities, as he watched smallpox rip through indigenous populations in Indonesia while serving in the Dutch military.
The military forces were unaffected as they had been vaccinated.
The Bay of Plenty District Health Board began vaccinating those in aged care homes through contractor Cicada Healthcare in April and is already ahead of schedule.
The Government has placed every New Zealander over the age of 16 into four groups to prioritise who should get the vaccine first.
Covid-19 incident controller Trever Richardson says the health board is currently vaccinating all those in Group 2, which includes high-risk frontline workers and people living in high-risk places, and is moving into Group 3, which includes those people who are at risk of getting very sick from Covid-19.
“We are very pleased with the current progress of the vaccination rollout programme, which is running over and above the numbers scheduled,” he says.
“Up to Sunday, May 2, we had vaccinated 7894 people in the Bay of Plenty, 1781 more than the planned figure at this stage.”
The health board has been proactively working with the community to ensure it reaches even those in the most remote areas.
This has included partnering with iwi and kaupapa Maori health providers to ensure older Maori who may be living with whanau and not in a home also receive the vaccine.
Mountain View operations manager Marie Roberts says she's very pleased with the uptake of the vaccine at the rest home.
An estimated 80 per cent of staff and nearly 90 per cent of residents have agreed to be vaccinated.
Ms Roberts says she expects more will be vaccinated after seeing others have theirs.
“It’s great that we may be able to relax our strict rules after everyone is vaccinated so we can get back to the new normal,” she says.
“We were very grateful for the patience of our families during lockdown and have had the total support of our residents.”
Just like those in Mountain View, Kawerau Mayor Malcolm Campbell says he will be getting the vaccine.
“Why? Well, I don’t want to catch bloody Covid,” he says.
The four vaccination groups
The Government has placed all New Zealanders over the age of 16 into one of four vaccination groups arranged by order of priority. You will receive a letter from the DHB when it is your turn.
Group 1 – Border and MIQ workers and the people they live with: Underway
Group 2 – High-risk frontline workers and people living in high-risk places: Underway
Group 3 – People who are at risk of getting very sick from Covid-19: Underway
Group 4 – General population: estimated start date July