Last month’s mass COVID-19 vaccine drive-thru clinic at Sky Stadium saw Immunisation Advisory Centre (IMAC) staff work alongside the wider health workforce to vaccinate Wellington’s population.

Andrea Teahan, IMAC Immunisation Education Facilitator, shares her experiences working on-site.

My only experience with drive-thru vaccine clinics previously had been at my former place of work Whaiora Health in Masterton. I worked Saturdays and vaccinated around 60 people at a time.

When I was asked to work at such a large-scale event, I thought this was going to be next level. I was excited but also thinking about logistics and how everything would be organised from entry to vaccination to observation and finally exit periods. There would be a lot of people involved for vaccinating just one person.

Andrea explains that several IMAC staff were involved.

Shelley Kininmonth, Marleen Hart, Jenine Emry, Abbey Palmer [all IMAC staff] and myself were all working on-site that day in different areas of the stadium. Capital Coast [DHB] put the word out that they were looking for more vaccinators and Loretta Roberts [IMAC National Director] put our names forward. This is not something we would usually do, but because of the pandemic and because we are authorised vaccinators than we were more than willing to roll up our sleeves.

Andrea describes the logistics in place at the drive-thru clinic:

There was a maze of orange cones that the participants had to drive through to get to the next checkpoint which was made of three lanes. Once they got into a lane, an admin person with a laptop would screen them. I was nearby in PPE, trying to overhear what admin was saying to make sure the person getting vaccinated is safe. If I didn’t hear what they were saying before, I would still ask those screening questions to the person getting vaccinated such as do you have any allergies? Which vaccine dosage is this 1st or 2nd?

Everyone present had to fight against the cold breeze coming from the waterfront, and staff had to make sure the medical equipment (vaccines, sharps containers, and hand sanitiser) didn’t go flying off the metal trays.

It was extremely tiring as there were constantly things to attend to, and it requires continuous concentration to see everything done. There was a complete team effort to ensure everything ran smoothly, and to identify red flags when raised. We also had paramedics and army personal present to handle any emergencies and assist with vaccination.

Andrea also shares feedback from the public who got vaccinated on the day.

Everyone was just over the moon; they would pull up and we would ask them to turn off their cars for safety. People were keen and rolling up their sleeves themselves. It was unfortunate we couldn’t see everyone’s smile, but you could tell by their eyes and tone of voice people were reassured after we spoke with them.

Otherwise, we got questions such as ‘can I receive the vaccine in my non-dominant arm?’ and just trying to make people comfortable by answering questions and making this a stress-free environment to ensure we get people coming back, and how all this positively reflects on our mahi.

Overall, this was a successful event but the one thing missing was that human connection. I’m very much kanohi ki te kanoihi (face to face) and that was one thing I missed doing this event.