Lakes DHB has apologised after claims its staff turned children aged 12 to 15 away from a Rotorua vaccination site despite them now being allowed to get the jab.
In the 1pm press conference on Thursday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Cabinet had agreed to make the Pfizer vaccine available for 12 to 15-year-olds, of whom there are an estimated 265,000 in New Zealand.
Previously, approval had only been given for those aged 16 and over.
Today NZME was contacted by a woman who said a number of families were turned away when they brought their children to their appointment at the Rotorua vaccination site.
The woman, an essential worker who spoke anonymously, wanted her 12-year-old child vaccinated to protect her as well.
“We are a household of essential workers and thought we can get her done at the same time, but we got there and [they] said no we cannot let her in.”
“I had to leave her sitting in the car.”
She said it was a frustrating experience.
Asked about children being turned away, a Lakes District Health Board spokeswoman said yesterday’s announcement “may not have been fully understood by all involved”.
“We apologise most sincerely for this.
“We recognise the efforts that many families make in terms of ensuring their family is vaccinated and protected, and we do not want anyone to be put off by this.”
All Lakes DHB staff were committed to having as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible, the spokeswoman said.
“Parents who are booked in today and who bring their 12 to 15-year-old children along too to be vaccinated will be seen today, however, because the children have not been formally booked in there may be some delay at the appointment.”
She said those who were turned away incorrectly, should call 0800 28 29 26 and explain what had happened and make a formal booking for their children.
Vaccinations restarted in the Lakes DHB area on Friday after a brief pause due to the change in alert levels.
In today’s 3pm briefing, director general of health Ashley Bloomfield encouraged parents taking their children with them to vaccination appointments to call ahead.
He said there had been a number of children showing up to GP offices to be vaccinated across the country, causing a risk of infection due to crowding in confined spaces.
He recommended people call ahead and make a booking so staff could prepare.
“If you do have a booking you can now go ahead and make a booking so your child can accompany you.”
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