New Zealand / Covid 19

Covid-19: Whanganui high school community to receive vaccine

09:22 am on 9 July 2021

Whanganui high school students over the age of 16 are set to receive their first doses of the Covid-19 vaccine from next term.

(File image) Photo: RNZ / Simon Rogers

There are about 1600 students eligible to receive the vaccine and it will also be offered to kaiako (teachers) and kaimahi (staff), bringing the total to between 2000 and 2300.

Whanganui District Health Board spokesperson Bruce Jones told First Up students over 16 were able to consent for themselves and they had provided education on informed consent.

"If whānau did not want their students to be vaccinated at school, we've got a bit of a process where we can have a list of students that aren't to be vaccinated at school and we'll just make sure we honour their wishes that way.

"We just really need to know how many vaccinations are to be offered in that community so we can bring the right amount of vaccine in.

"We're taking a setting-based aproach, so the school community is the setting and anyone connected with that community would be able to be vaccinated if they're eligible."

"Students over 16 are able to consent for themselves" - Whanganui DHB spokesperson Bruce Jones

Jones said some vaccinations would be administered today at Arahunga Specialist School in Gonville.

"The students come in from different satellite schools to Arahunga so we're also vaccinating their caregivers and the support staff that are with them.

"And then they wait in their classroom that they are familiar with for the 20 minutes or 30 minutes afterwards... they can do drawings or puzzles, talk to students or friends and then we're able to release them out of that area back to their normal day."

He said this rollout could provide a template for use of Pfizer on 12-15 year olds once Medsafe approved that cohort.

"We've got the relationships with the schools ... we'll be able to talk to them about the roll-out for 12-15 year olds when that comes online."

He said the main obstacle was fitting around the school timetable and curriculum but they were hoping for a smooth rollout.

"That's why we chose to talk to the schools this term and get all the logistics sorted... Term 3 is very busy for secondary schools and going in to term 4 with exams.

"With the programme in Whanganui, we're hoping to get that finished by hopefully the end of next term so we can be out of the schools for term 4."

Anyone wanting to support their tamariki during the vaccine administration could also do so, he said.