A vaccination centre near a central Auckland MIQ facility has moved to a larger site, with health officials citing “concerns” about the proximity may have created a “barrier” for people to be vaccinated.
Health officials say the decision to move a Covid-19 vaccination site from near the Crowne Plaza managed isolation facility was partially to allay any concern people being had about vaccinated there.
But, they’re refusing to supply daily vaccination data for the site, which would substantiate whether there had been a drop in jabs there.
Questions about the location arose after government officials identified the Crowne Plaza as the most likely source of New Zealand’s Delta outbreak.
Officials today announced the Crowne Plaza will be reopening as an MIQ facility tomorrow. Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said experts had told the government the chance of any spread in the atrium from a returnee in the neighbouring MIQ was negligible.
“Concerns” about having a vaccination centre near an MIQ facility “may have created a barrier” for some people seeking their vaccinations, Jo Gibbs, director of the national Covid-19 vaccination programme said. But, there is “no way of assessing” what impact this had on actual doses given.
The Atrium on Elliott vaccination centre in Auckland’s CBD closed on Tuesday and moved to a larger location on Graham Street, providing increased capacity, officials say.
Stuff’s requests for a day-by-day breakdown of doses given at the site, to substantiate whether there was a decrease in people coming to be vaccinated, have been refused by the Northern Region Health Coordination Centre and Ministry of Health.
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On Wednesday, Gibbs told Stuff the demand for vaccinations in Auckland has “surged significantly” during the Delta community outbreak, including at the CBD vaccination centre.
The average daily number of vaccinations at the CBD site for the 13 days from August 20 (after vaccination was suspended for 48 hours after Case A was detected), was 608.
This had increased from a daily average of 543 vaccinations between August 1 and August 17, when the first community case was announced.
Gibbs said the new centre in Graham St will have greater capacity for people who live or work in the city centre, and will be able to deliver about 1000 vaccinations a day, up from about 600 at the Atrium site.
More than 48,000 people had been vaccinated at the Atrium site prior to its closure and there was “no evidence” of transmission from the Crowne Plaza MIQ to people attending the vaccination centre.
“Based on all information that has been available, the Atrium site has always been considered safe to operate as a vaccination centre,” the Ministry told Stuff.
Moving to Graham St would also “eliminate any potential concerns people may have about getting vaccinated at the Atrium centre” Gibbs said.
This was echoed by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday, who said while authorities were working through the Crowne Plaza situation “we also acknowledge that some people just might have that residual concern”.
Rather than “people being worried and not showing up” they instead found a different, bigger venue, which Ardern touted as a “win-win”.
“It hasn’t moved because we think that there is an ongoing public health concern, but we were worried that people might be hesitant to go there,” she said.
However, when the Ministry was asked to provide data showing whether vaccinations at the site had decreased following news of the MIQ link, Gibbs said: “we have no way of assessing this impact on people in the CBD because they will simply choose to get their vaccinations elsewhere”.
The NRHCC provided data on the days with highest and lowest vaccination rates – 487 doses on August 3, and 716 on August 17.
The Graham St centre opens today.
In the meantime, the Crowne Plaza will reopen to returnees and contacts of community cases unable to isolate at home from Thursday, following “thorough” public health investigations.