Some Auckland rest home residents won’t be fully vaccinated until at least the end of July while others in Nelson have been done for weeks, showing a substantial disparity in the sector’s vaccine rollout.
The NZ Herald can reveal significant differences in vaccination progress in rest homes across DHBs through Ministry of Health data, which detailed how many Covid vaccines have been administered to residents and staff – who were in Group 2 – as at Thursday.
As expected, highly populated areas had received the most with 10,177 first doses and 1402 second doses across the Auckland, Waitematā and Counties Manukau DHBs. Canterbury and Waikato had almost reached 7000 first doses.
Taranaki had given the least first doses, with 65 alongside 18 second doses, followed by the West Coast’s 242 first doses and 65 second doses.
However, these figures did not factor in relative staff and resident populations. The Ministry of Health refused to share this data, saying it was only used for planning purposes and could not define these groups accurately.
Data from the New Zealand Aged Care Association in fact showed Nelson Marlborough DHB (1336 residents) was one of the best performers with 1748 first doses and 1329 second doses, which included staff.
In contrast, Auckland had more than 20,000 rest home staff and residents in 181 facilities, but had only administered first doses to about half of them.
When asked for data breakdowns for Auckland’s three DHBs, a Northern Region Health Co-ordination Centre (NRHCC) spokesperson said there was no requirement to report such information as the rollout was focused on the region as a whole.
Oceania Healthcare managed 40 rest homes in about 11 of New Zealand’s DHBs – 14 of which were in Auckland.
General manager Dr Frances Hughes lauded the efforts the Nelson Marlborough, Hutt Valley and Lakes DHBs, saying their proactive communication led to an efficient and painless vaccine rollout.
However, Hughes said there was a significant lack of organisation between Auckland’s DHBs, which had caused only half of her Auckland facilities to receive one dose so far.
“The biggest thing for us is we have not had the same level of engagement [in Auckland].” she said.
“If they engage with us early, give us clear information and then we can plan, you can’t plan if you’re kept in the dark.
“They need to show some respect and value around that … it’s disrespectful.”
Hughes hoped her Auckland facilities would be fully vaccinated by the end of July – when the rollout to the general population was supposed to start.
The delay had also impacted influenza vaccine distribution. Normally administered in March, Hughes said her residents might not get a flu jab until August.
NRHCC vaccination programme lead Matt Hannant said all Counties Manukau facilities had received first doses as it was a priority area.
The 53 facilities in Auckland and Waitematā DHBs which hadn’t had a first dose were expected to receive it by the end of June and second doses by the end of July.
“We are pleased with the progress of the rollout to date, particularly given the size and scale of this programme in metro Auckland.”
He believed rest homes were kept up to date with information regarding their vaccination sessions.
The state of Auckland’s rollout was in stark contrast to Nelson Marlborough DHB (NMDHB), which would have offered vaccinations to all rest homes by the end of the week.
NMDHB nursing associate director Dr Jill Clendon said effective co-ordination between primary healthcare organisations and public health staff since March had enabled such an efficient rollout.
She acknowledged the frustration caused by the disparity in rollout progress across the sector and advised DHBs to engage with rest home operators to deliver vaccinations smoothly.
New Zealand Age Care Association chief executive Simon Wallace commended efforts in Nelson, but echoed the frustration felt by rest home residents in Auckland, along with people in Taranaki and Southern DHBs.
While he was pleased with the rollout overall, he had expected up to 90 per cent of first jabs would have been delivered by now and hoped DHBs would be open about any delays.
“Tell us what the problem is, tell us why the rollout is not going as quickly as other regions and then we can understand the reasons why.”
Southern DHB Covid vaccine rollout incident controller Hamish Brown believed the region’s rollout to rest homes was progressing well, anticipating its 37 facilities would be offered two vaccine doses by mid-July.
Taranaki DHB Covid vaccination programme senior responsible officer Steven Parrish said rest homes first received vaccinations in mid-May and the DHB had administered first doses to eight of the region’s 26 facilities.
Parrish expected the rollout may not be completed until early August.
Two Taranaki rest home managers spoken to by the Herald said they would be getting their second doses by the end of the month and were overly happy with the rollout.
On Monday, Capital & Coast DHB announced rest home vaccinations were complete in the Wellington region.
The Ministry of Health was preparing a response at the time of publication.
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