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Unitec lecturers step up to support Aotearoa’s biggest ever vaccine rollout

  • Nursing Lecturers

Back row: Dr Samantha Heath - Senior Lecturer in Nursing; Kate Barry - BNurse Academic Programme Manager; Pam Williams - Lecturer in Nursing. Front row: Ruth Jackson - Lecturer in Nursing; Dr Dianne Roy Associate Professor - Nursing

Five of Unitec's nursing lecturers have stepped up to take part in the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine – Aotearoa’s biggest ever vaccine programme.

Nursing Lecturers Ruth Jackson, Pam Williams, Kate Barry, Dr Samantha Heath and Dr Dianne Roy have taken on additional training to gain ‘provisional vaccinator’ status. They are part of a huge group of vaccinators who are expecting to administer about 534,000 doses of vaccine each week for seven weeks in September and October.

To meet the demand for experienced practitioners, a national call went out for people with annual practising certificates to complete the online training and clinical exposure.

Samantha said that, as nurses, the group felt they were well-placed to help with the vaccine effort.

“The COVID-19 vaccination rollout is going to be the biggest health event that New Zealand has ever seen and it’s going to take all hands to the pump to get us there. We are all nurses and I think it is within us all to get amongst it when we have the skills to be able to help the effort.”

The five lecturers all recently went through the specialist vaccinator training, specific to the Pfizer vaccine that is being administered in New Zealand.

“We have added to our knowledge by doing online courses about vaccine storage and logistics; how to respond if a person has a reaction and how to prepare to administer the vaccine. We have been supported by our colleagues in Te Puna Waiora (Unitec Health Centre) to achieve the practical elements of the course. We really want to thank Te Puna Waiora team - we couldn’t have done it without them!”

The lecturers will continue teaching and researching at Unitec while involved in the vaccination programme, and although it will be busy few months, with some shuffling of schedules needed,  Samantha says the effort aligns with her values as a nurse and a teacher.

“As lecturers in nursing it is really important that we role model clinical practice roles and health responses. Being part of the vaccine programme shows our students how passionate we remain about health in New Zealand. Contributing to vaccinating the team of five million is a way of using our (at least) 150 years of combined nursing experience to this once in a lifetime event.”


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