Shayla Green of Ōrewa was keen to get her Covid-19 vaccination as soon as possible, and booked at Albany vaccination centre.
However, the single mother was turned away because she had no option but to bring her seven-year-old with her to the appointment.
As her husband died a few years ago, 32-year-old Shayla has just herself and her son John in her bubble. When she made the vaccination booking, by phone, she explained that she would need to bring her son, as there was no one else to care for him, and was told that would be no problem.
It was a different story when she arrived in the carpark, where Northern Region Health Coordination Centre staff refused to let her enter the vaccination centre.
“We were both wearing masks and I was all prepared,” Shayla says. “I was told by four different people that having my son there was too much of a risk and I would have to wait until Level 2 when he would be back at school. For a country that apparently wants to get as many people vaccinated as soon as possible, refusing a single mother a vaccine is disgusting. We’re allowed to bring children to the supermarket, which, to me, is more of a risk.”
The Northern Region Health Coordination Centre (NRHCC) is apologetic. A spokesperson says the NRHCC sincerely apologises and appreciates how inconvenient this would have been.
“We have confirmed with our centres that people may need to bring carers or their children if they don’t have childcare support,” the spokesperson says.
The NRHCC also offered to apologise directly and reschedule Shayla’s appointment.
However, Shayla says she would prefer to book the vaccination at her local GP practice. “They know me and my son and there’s no way they would turn us away,” she says.
The Ministry of Health’s advice states that anyone can bring a support person to a vaccination.