The Director of Nursing for the country’s largest network of health professionals says the changes announced this week to Auckland’s vaccine rollout system are welcome, and could help make a big difference to communities most at-risk.
Gabrielle Lord explains that until now, Auckland’s General Practice clinics have had to wait in line for vaccination onboarding, from Auckland’s Northern Region Health Coordination Centre or NRHCC, the health incident management team for the pandemic. Primary Health Organisations (such as ProCare) have this week been advised that they will now be supporting and managing most of the onboarding process from late July. “Up until this week, the approval process has seen a build-up of practices waiting to get involved in vaccinating” says Lord. “There have been limitations on what we could do as a PHO while the protocols and processes have gone through a rigorous approval process by the NRHCC. From late July, ourselves and other PHOs have been given permission to onboard our own practices. This will take significant pressure off the incredibly hardworking NRHCC who are also responsible for overseeing mass vaccination sites, pharmacy providers and other vaccination events. ProCare, and I’m sure other PHOs, are thrilled to be given the green light as we believe it will make a big difference.”
General Practices tend to have close patient relationships and are well equipped to identify patients who are most at risk, says Lord. “Each practice we support has access to our Population Health data, which gets updated daily. They know who their patients are and who is most at risk. Auckland is currently seeing vaccination levels of around 8% for Maori and 9% for Pasifika, but having General Practice more heavily involved in the vaccine rollout will be a powerful tool in reaching some of our harder-to-reach patients and also those with long term conditions, and hopefully we’ll see those numbers grow.”
ProCare currently has 11 Practices currently vaccinating and over twenty Practices waiting to be approved so that they can begin vaccinating their communities. “From today, it’ll be easier to bring them onboard, and that’s a good thing for everyone” explains Lord. “The COVID situation in Australia serves as a warning - we need all hands on deck to stay safe, and this change means more hands, faster” she says.