Corrections support vaccination rollout at prison


Ready with the rollout – Whanganui Prison Health Centre Manager Bridgit Carver-Vitens, Prison Director Reti Pearse and immunisation lead Sue Hina.

18 May 2021

As overseas experience has shown, prisons are particularly susceptible to the threat of an outbreak of COVID-19. The unique nature of the Corrections environment makes people who live and work in prisons especially vulnerable to the virus.

That is why they are high on the Government’s vaccination priority list, and why the rollout in the Whanganui region had Whanganui Prison near the top of its list.

In fact, Whanganui Prison was the first such facility in New Zealand to get COVID-19 vaccinations when the regional rollout team joined health staff from the prison for two days of clinics for prison staff earlier this month.

Bridgit Carver-Vitens, Health Centre Manager at Whanganui Prison, said the clinics had worked really well.

“It was pleasing to be the first prison to get vaccinations, and we appreciate the help of the Whanganui rollout team who made it look seamless.

“It was a lesson in teamwork – a combination of people willing to train and work together.”

More than 250 people at the prison received their first vaccine dose on 4 and 5 May – a fantastic achievement, she said.

Staff were offered the vaccine first, followed by a number of vulnerable low-security prisoners who were vaccinated by Corrections’ own health staff.

“We learnt some valuable lessons through the rollout at Whanganui Prison which will be applied as Corrections prepares to vaccinate the rest of our staff and the prison population, said Prison Director Reti Pearse.

Whanganui Regional Immunisation Coordinator Sue Hina was grateful for the support of the Corrections health staff.
“Corrections worked really hard and were easy to get along with. We are very pleased with the result.”

The Whanganui regional vaccination team returns to the prison on 25 May to administer second doses of the vaccine.