Covid-19: Vaccination centers are busy as children line up to receive their first shots

Streams of cars wind around vaccination centers in Auckland as parents queue to have their children injected with the Covid-19 vaccine.

Monday marks the first day that children aged 5 to 11 can receive their first Covid-19 vaccine.

As of 9 a.m., nearly 100 cars were lined up at Eventfinda Stadium in Auckland’s Wairau Valley, with the line causing delays for those traveling on Porana Rd.

Nicole Wilson was there with her three sons on Monday morning, intending to have all of her children double vaccinated “as soon as possible”.

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“They’re all going back to school in three weeks, schools are a giant petri dish,” she said.

Alanis-Tiara Chandra, 9, receives her Covid-19 vaccination this morning at the Westgate Pacific Vaccination Center in Auckland.

Torika Tokalau / Stuff

Alanis-Tiara Chandra, 9, receives her Covid-19 vaccination this morning at the Westgate Pacific Vaccination Center in Auckland.

Meanwhile, there was confusion at several Southern District Health Board medical centers over when vaccinations might take place for children.

On Friday, the SDHB announced it would vaccinate children from Monday, but medical centers in Wanaka and Queenstown would not offer the vaccine until next week.

Things entered the two medical centers in Wanaka, which each confirmed they were not taking bookings until January 25.

A Wanaka mother tried to book her two sons under 11 for their first vaccinations on the My Vaccine website, and the closest place available was Dunedin or Te Anau, both three hours away.

“I kept booking my vaccine online, I clicked on where we live, and it said nowhere near where I live

So I clicked on and closest, and it said 200 miles away, she told Stuff.

“I called the book my vaccine line, and after about 15 minutes I spoke to them, and she said it didn’t look like Southern DHB had availability and wasn’t ready yet.

In Christchurch, Hillmorton Medical Center also did not offer childhood vaccinations until February and Barrington Medical Center was at capacity with childhood vaccinations by early Monday afternoon.

Earlier in Auckland, Katrina and Tony McDermott had been queuing since 8.30am to get their 11-year-old son Luke vaccinated.

Luke said he was “a little” nervous about getting his shot and applied numbing cream to his shoulder in preparation.

Andy Egli was joined by his two children, aged 6 and 8, and said the family were getting their shots “for safety” in time for a road trip they were embarking on later this week.

The queue at Eventfinda Stadium in Auckland's Wairau Valley winds around the <a class=car park.” style=”width:100%;display:inline-block”/>

Bernadette Basagre / Stuff

The queue at Eventfinda Stadium in Auckland’s Wairau Valley winds around the car park.

Stefan Whiting said he took his children, Abby and Noah, for vaccinations because he was immunocompromised.

“I want to do them before school,” he said, while Abby said she was thrilled to get her first dose.

About 20 protesters were on hand, shouting into megaphones, handing out flyers to those in line and banging on car windows.

A police spokeswoman said officers were “currently monitoring the situation”.

Other vaccination centers in the city were seeing an increase in visitors, including the Westgate vaccination center in West Auckland – where Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni and former All Black Ofisa Tonu’u were among those who were queuing.

Sepuloni joined the line early with his 8-year-old son.

They were “protecting our children, whānau and our communities” by getting vaccinated, she said on Twitter.

The wait time at the Ōrewa Service Center walk-in clinic was around two hours on Monday, with a security guard telling parents who had made appointments for their children to keep queuing.

In Wellington, a long queue of children formed outside the Gateway vaccination center on Monday morning.

Cousins ​​Zac Flutey, Jacob Flutey and Harrison Tocker were so eager to get the jab that they arranged it between themselves, mother Jana Tocker said.

Zac Flutey, 11, left, Jacob Flutey, 9, and Harrison Tocker, 8, prepare for their first Covid-19 vaccination.

Jericho Rock-Archer / Stuff

Zac Flutey, 11, left, Jacob Flutey, 9, and Harrison Tocker, 8, prepare for their first Covid-19 vaccination.

Around 476,000 children are now eligible to receive the vaccine after the government approved the pediatric version of the Pfizer vaccine in December.

For children under 12, the vaccine is specially formulated with a lower dose and a smaller volume of vaccine is given to adults.

Two doses will be given to children, with an interval of at least eight weeks between the first and second doses.

Nicole Wilson and her three sons were at Eventfinda Stadium in Auckland on Monday morning.

Bernadette Basagre / Stuff

Nicole Wilson and her three sons were at Eventfinda Stadium in Auckland on Monday morning.

The interval for receiving the second dose can be shortened to three weeks (21 days) if necessary, for example if the child is to receive immunosuppressive therapy.

The rollout of the vaccine for children comes just before primary and secondary schools begin for the year.

Dr Jin Russell, a developmental pediatrician at Starship Children’s Hospital, said the children’s vaccine had an “excellent safety profile”.

Across the country, many vaccination centers were preparing for a busy day as more than 530,000 adults were eligible for their boosters.

The North Region Health Services Coordination Center (CNRSS) was expecting a busy start to the year.

During the Delta outbreak, nearly a quarter of community cases were children under the age of 11.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said in December that “vaccinating children aged 5 to 11 helps protect whānau members whose health makes them more vulnerable”.