Nurses Christine McLean, Averill Glew and Alice Jamieson in front of the posters. A creative initiative from the staff and prisoners at Invercargill Prison aiming to get 80% of men vaccinated against the flu has exceeded its target.

Under the management of Health Centre Manager Cassie Carstensen, the prison held a flu vaccine challenge and vaccinated 88.2% of men in Invercargill Prison.

“This is an impressive statistic which mimics the ongoing efforts to vaccinate against COVID-19,” says Cassie. “I am beyond proud of the efforts of the health staff who worked together to get this done, and custody who supported their efforts, despite being short-staffed due to COVID-19.”

The entire team got involved, as men used their creative talents to create posters promoting the campaign around the prison.

“It was great to get the men involved with a creative challenge,” says Nurse Star Montinola, who proposed the poster activity. “This is a true team effort, across staff and men to get our vaccination rates up.”

The challenge came out of concerns around an anticipated flu resurgence this year, due to the recent relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions and border reopening.

“Vaccinations are our best defence against the flu,” explains Cassie. “This challenge is a great way to fight apathy about the flu vaccine.”

With the majority of people in prison triple-vaccinated against COVID-19, there were concerns that people would be ambivalent about the impact of the flu.

“It’s been great to employ the Hōkai Rangi strategy to kickstart this challenge, with our health centre, custody staff and prisoners working together.”