Getting the COVID-19 vaccine to the vulnerable


15 July 2021


Registered nurse Brian Elliott has retired three times; Julie Blair, with an extensive district nursing background, was planning to retire last March …


But now they are busy working as a crucial component in the biggest vaccination programme in Whanganui’s history.


And they are “loving it”.


Brian and Julie have teamed up to provide the COVID-19 vaccine to those in the community who are housebound.


“We are looking after those who cannot get to a vaccination clinic,” says Julie.


Brian Elliott and Julie Blair hit the road.

“They may be disabled, or very frail and elderly – vulnerable people who might otherwise miss out on the vaccination programme.”


Each day the pair plan their route, and their travels around the region have seen them vaccinate well over 100 people, with plenty more to come.


“We average 11 houses each day and we vaccinate everyone living there,” says Julie.


“It’s a long, slow process, but we are loving the work. The people appreciate it so much – everyone wants us to stop for a cup of coffee.”


They get their list of referrals from the district nursing database, from GPs and by word of mouth.


“And then there are people who phone in and say ‘My mum and dad are so old and can’t travel’.”


In August the team will expand to four.


So far more than 20,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been delivered in the Whanganui rohe.


The current target is the Group 3 population which comprises those aged 65 or over; those with relevant underlying health conditions; Māori and Pasifika aged 50 and over; pregnant women; and the disabled and those who care for the disabled. This is more than 23,000 members of the community.


Those who are in this group are invited to phone 0800 888 479 or email to make an appointment.