Huia Gibbs, Driver Licencing Instructor for Howard League Taranaki, receives her vaccination at Hāwera Community Corrections. Hāwera, New Plymouth, and Whanganui Service Centres have joined forces with Taranaki DHB to help boost COVID-19 vaccination rates in the region.

Pop-up vaccination centres have been set up at Corrections sites to encourage locals to get their shots.

Taranaki has some of the lowest vaccination rates in the country. With that in mind Lead Service Manager Steve Ponga and his team brainstormed ideas to encourage the community to take the jab.

Steve says the DHB have provided all the resources needed.

“The motivation behind organising the events was to remove barriers and increase access to vaccinations for the people in our community.

“Not everyone is going to call the 0800 number or have access to the internet so it’s about making vaccinations more accessible,” he says.

One Hāwera local says she had been meaning to get her vaccine but just hadn’t found the time. The convenience of crossing the road while she was out running errands made it easy.

Hawera Service Manager Deb Rewi receives her vaccination at Hāwera Community Corrections.To drum up support, staff reached out to their caseloads and whānau.

A special mention goes to Probation Officer Penelope Van Der Lee whose hidden talents in sales and marketing came to the fore by contacting the local council and businesses.

“Our staff have done a terrific job; they’ve gone above and beyond to engage with members of the community,” says Steve.

A sausage sizzle was also set up to help lure in locals.

New Plymouth Service Manager Shane Spencer says the day was a success. “DHB staff managed to get extra doses delivered to help cope with the number of people turning up. Thanks to our own marketing skills, we had a number of local business people pop in for their first dose.”

District Manager David Roberts says it’s about doing our part for the community. “Every dose is one step closer for the community to be safer and live with fewer restrictions.”

The team have another pop-up centre scheduled in six weeks for locals to come in for their second shot.