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Source: New Zealand Government

A new team has been mobilised to support disabled people to access transport and get vaccinated in a way that suits their needs, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins and Disability Issues Minister Carmel Sepuloni said. 

“As part of our plan to give every eligible person the opportunity to get vaccinated by the end of the year, we are ensuring it is both easy and accessible for everyone, including disabled people,” Chris Hipkins said.

“A 30-strong team has been tasked with answering calls and questions, assisting disabled people and their carers to get the information and support they need. It will not only help increase vaccination rates among this group, but keep them and their whānau safer.”

To speak with a support specialist, people can call the COVID Vaccination Healthline on 0800 28 29 26 for free 8 am – 8 pm Monday to Friday and ‘push 2’ to speak to one of the team.

“We know that being vaccinated will be one of our greatest protections against COVID-19, which is why we need to continue making every effort to prioritise disabled people in the vaccination programme,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

“I’m encouraged to see the team is already having a positive impact, supporting over 440 disabled people in the first two weeks since the team began taking calls.

“Support has included ensuring sites have mobility assistance in place, arranging sign language interpreters, providing transport options, ensuring 1737 phone counsellors are available to support people with needle anxiety, and other bespoke solutions developed for individuals alongside District Health Boards.

“This is another step in the right direction as we continue to remove barriers to vaccinations for disabled people, and make the vaccination programme accessible, inclusive and mana-enhancing,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

A toolkit is available for people supporting disabled peoples with key messages, digital assets for social media channels, newsletters and website, frequently asked questions, and links to further information and resources. Click here.