Leaders of all Bay of Plenty district, regional and city councils are in unified support of the COVID-19 vaccination programme.

The region’s elected and appointed leaders were updated on the vaccination programme at the latest meeting of the Bay of Plenty Civil Defence Emergency Management Group’s Joint Committee. Bay of Plenty Regional Councillor and committee Chair David Love, says the endorsement makes sense on every level:

“Vaccination is a core part of protecting and restoring the Bay of Plenty’s economic and social health, as well as looking after our people and at-risk communities, so we all need to do our bit.”

As well as Councillor Love, the mayors of Ōpōtiki, Kawerau, Whakatāne, Rotorua and Western Bay of Plenty, and commissioners from Tauranga City, agreed to actively endorse the work of the Ministry of Health, Bay of Plenty and Lakes DHBs and Toi Te Ora, the Public Health Unit for both DHBs.

Cr. Love, says the COVID-19 crisis remains a significant issue for the region:

“Our communities have shown amazing spirit and support for each other – especially during the higher alert levels. But to beat this thing properly we all need to support the vaccine rollout and encourage each other to get the jab when we are called up.”

Dr Phil Shoemack, Medical Officer of Health for Toi Te Ora Public Health, briefed the committee on the region’s vaccine rollout which he confirmed is progressing according to plan since vaccination of border workers at the isolation hotels in Rotorua, and at the Port of Tauranga, started in March. 

“We’re now currently vaccinating those most at risk of becoming very sick should they contract COVID-19, including Maori and Pacific kaumatua and their whānau.

“Vaccination teams at the Bay of Plenty and Lakes District Health Boards are also taking bookings for anyone aged over 65 years living in the Western Bay of Plenty, Eastern Bay, Rotorua and Lakes districts, including Taupo.”

Dr Shoemack says he expects vaccination of the general population to start in July and encourages people to regularly check the Bay of Plenty and Lakes District Health Boards websites for latest updates.

Councillor Love is confident local businesses and organisations will echo the regional leaders’ call:

“The sooner we all get vaccinated, the sooner we can put this virus behind us. I’m confident the Bay of Plenty can show the rest of the country how it’s done- with kotahitanga, manaakitanga and aroha.”