COVID vaccination centre set to open
From building projects to building immunity, the former Bunnings site in Te Awamutu is about to take on a new life as a COVID-19 vaccination centre. The building, now owned by Waipa¯ District Council, will be leased by Waikato DHB to carry out its vaccination programme for residents between August and December. Maree Munro, Waikato's COVID-19 vaccine programme lead, said at full capacity the Bunnings site in Te Awamutu will be able to vaccinate around 200-250 people a day. Days and hours are still to be confirmed, but it would likely cover Tuesday through to Saturday from 9am – 4pm. “The centre will be by appointment only, with the first vaccinations for Group 3 set to begin in early August, once we have fitted out the building,” she said. “We are looking to have around 25 staff located at the centre in Te Awamutu, but this will depend on vaccination bookings.” Within Waikato there are operational community vaccination centres in Hamilton, Thames, Te Kuiti and Taumarunui. Alongside Te Awamutu, additional community vaccination centres will be established in Morrinsville, Matamata, Cambridge and Tokoroa, and will be operational from next week to early August. Maree said there would be a range of options for Groups 3 and 4 residents in Te Awamutu to receive their COVID-19 vaccinations, including community vaccination centres, mobile clinics, and some GP practices and pharmacies. “We have been working closely with the general practices and pharmacies in Te Awamutu and are looking forward to supporting them to start vaccinating in the next couple of weeks,” she said. Waipa¯ District Council business support group manager Ken Morris said the agreement put a temporarily empty space to good use. “It's great we have found a temporary use for this space while we are in the planning stages of Te Ara Wai — a purpose-built museum which will eventually be housed in this building. To date, almost 100,000 vaccinations have been administered to the people of Waikato. Those in Group 3, which includes people aged 65 and over, those with underlying health conditions, people with disabilities, and pregnant women, are now receiving their invitations to book their vaccination appointments via the national Book My Vaccine system. Group 4 (the general population) starts on 28 July. This is a big group so vaccinations will be done in age bands, starting with people aged over 60 years. More details will be publicised in newspapers, television and radio channels from this coming weekend.