| 03 Mar 2021

There will be new brand of superhero in South Canterbury this week with COVID-19 vaccinations beginning for our 240 port workers.

Nigel Trainor, Chief Executive, South Canterbury DHB said “These vaccinations are key for the safety of our community and signal there will be a time when the pandemic is behind us.”

“Our port workers have been truly outstanding. They have been having regular COVID-19 tests and now they are first in line for vaccination, keeping us safe again.”

“Opening up our community, our region and New Zealand to international travel means different things to different people. For some it strengthens job security with a return of international tourists and agricultural industry workers; for others, it’s the opportunity of taking the delayed big OE (Overseas Experience). For me it will mean the world to be able to connect in person with my family again.”

Vaccination of the port workers is the first piece of work in a phased roll-out program which will see everyone in New Zealander over the age of 16 offered the COVID-19 vaccination.

Jason Power, Incident Controller said: “In South Canterbury our port workers are the most at-risk of coming into contact with the virus and so that’s why we are offering them the vaccinations first. Then we want to support them by offering vaccinations for their household contacts too.”

“In the second phase we will be looking to support frontline healthcare and essential workers, plus those most at risk from COVID-19, such as older people who may be more vulnerable if infected.”

“And finally, likely in the second half of the year, we will be looking to wrap-around and support the whole community.”

“It is going to be a busy winter, but we have seen what our community is capable of when we work together. I am confident we can work together again to put this pandemic behind us.”

“Port workers will continue to be key to the safety of the community,” Jason Power said. “Ideally the vaccine will stop everyone from carrying the infection as well as protecting them from becoming seriously ill, but we don’t yet know for sure if this is true.”

“What we do know is that all vaccines approved for use in New Zealand meet international standards and stringent local requirements for quality, safety and efficacy.”

“So while international research is being carried out to determine whether a vaccinated person could still be a carrier and transmit COVID-19 to someone else, mandatory testing of the port workforce will continue as well as the use of PPE in the workplace.”

Nigel Trainor said, “We can all play our part to support our port workers by sticking to the basics: washing hands, coughing and sneezing into the elbow, and scanning in with the NZ COVID Tracer App and turn on Bluetooth tracing in the app dashboard.”