General practices in Dunedin and Invercargill prepare to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine

Thursday 29 July 2021

As the COVID-19 vaccine roll out ramps up across the country – the Ministry of Health today inviting those 60+ in Group 4 to begin booking in for their two vaccines –- many practices in Dunedin and Invercargill are at the ready to help deliver the vaccine.

Though general practices in Queenstown Lakes, Central Otago, Waitaki, and other rural areas throughout the region have for months been delivering the vaccine to eligible cohorts  – including all Aged Residential Care facilities – most practices in urban centres are now also trained and prepared to deliver the vaccine. 68 of 80 general practices in Otago and Southland – 85% of WellSouth’s network - are either delivering or prepared to deliver the vaccine. 

More than elsewhere in Aotearoa New Zealand, general practices in Southern are playing a significant role in delivering the COVID-19 vaccine – accounting for approximately half of the more than 100,000 vaccinations administered since the programme began here in March.

WellSouth Covid-19 Immunisation Coordinators have been busy working to ‘on-board’ practices and helping to guide them through initial clinics to deliver the vaccine to their own eligible patients and others.  Their work includes carrying out site checks at practices, stepping practices through the process of receiving, recording, storing and drawing up the vaccine.


Broadway Medical Centre practice nurse Pauline Lovelock, WellSouth Covid-19 Immunisation Coordinator
Rachel Hall, and Broadway GM Paulien Leijnse.
At Broadway Medical Centre in Dunedin, general manager Paulien Leijnse says patients continue to ask about when they can be vaccinated. She says some people just want to get vaccinated anywhere, while many others would prefer to receive the Covid vaccine at their regular practice.While preparing clinics and administering vaccine is routine for general practice teams, delivering the Covid-19 vaccine programme is new and it is more work for practices. There’s a few things that are done differently and there’s a bit more administration and reporting required,” says Rachel Hall, WellSouth Covid-19 Immunisation Coordinator, citing the Covid-specific booking system and the Covid Immunisation Register (CIR) as well as additional storage and other regulations as examples of how Covid-19 vaccinations differ from other vaccines.

“How could we not deliver the vaccine?” she says. “This is preventative care, it’s a service patients want to receive in a place they’re familiar with and by a clinican they know.”

It is a sentiment echoed by Aurora Health director and GP Dr Jill McIlraith: “Aurora wants to do vaccines in South Dunedin as a lot of patients in this area find it difficult to get into town, particularly those with mobility issues and with not a lot of money for taxis.

“We plan on doing Saturday morning clinics as there is not enough staff to do it alongside busy weekdays. I want to really thank all our wonderful staff for volunteering for the Saturdays – their commitment to making the vaccine programme a success in our area is fantastic.”

“It’s been helpful to have WellSouth nurses to demonstrate the process during the trial run – the main benefit of them talking staff through the CIR.”

 Andrea Knowler training at Aurora

Andrew Swanson-Dobbs, WellSouth CEO, says the whole-of-system approach in Southern has been vital to the ongoing success the Covid-19 vaccination programme in the region: “General practices, community pharmacies, the community clinics established by SDHB, Māori and Pacific providers working together have been able to make this rollout accessible and equitable in this region. It has been a great team effort.”

It is important for those currently eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine to know that rather than calling their general practice directly to book an appointment, they  should instead book online at or by calling the COVID Vaccination HealthLine 0800 28 29 26.

 NZ Doctor Article 

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