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Central Otago district topped The New Zealand Herald vaccination rates leader board this week for the biggest percentage of population (57.1%) with two doses of the Covid-19 jab.

Dunedin was a close second (56.6%) and Queenstown Lakes (50.8%) was trailing not far behind in third place.

When Queenstown Lakes people with just one vaccination doses were counted, Queenstown Lakes was close to achieving 90% vaccination, Dunedin second (86.2%) and Central Otago third (82.9%).

The Herald data is from the 90% Project, launched on Monday to get the word out about vaccination, saving lives and restoring freedoms.

It revealed of the 4.21million people eligible for vaccination, 2.02million are fully vaccinated (48%) and 1.31million have received one dose (31.1%).

Southern District Health Board (SDHB) Chris Fleming reported at a board meeting on Tuesday that, as of September 20, more than 350,000 doses had been given, representing 77.9% of eligible people with one dose and 42.8% with two doses.

SDHB chief executive Chris Fleming said the southern vaccination response was “spectacularly great news” and put Southern as the top DHB based on population vaccinated.

“Southern is also a leading DHB with the numbers of Maori and Pacific vaccinated, as well as the disability and mental health communities,” Mr Fleming said.

However, he said better vaccination rates were still needed for Maori.

He also warned that as the Government moves from pandemic [global epidemic] status to endemic [in the population] status, there would be operating and financial consequences for the board.

“In a pandemic it is OK to shut everything down and cancel all care but in an endemic it isn’t .. There may be a conversation coming to this board that you don’t want to hear,” Mr Fleming said to the board.

But for now, the focus was on getting vaccinations to harder-to-reach people, using outreach and mobile services and co-operative delivery models.

Covid-19 caused an unfavourable financial result for the month of August and the deficit was now $4.8million instead of the $3.6million budgeted.

Mr Fleming said if the Government did not assist financially, as it did in 2020, there would be a budget blowout and the board would have to make up the loss.

The board later discussed draft plans for Covid-19 as an endemic with public excluded.

Central Otago mayor Tim Cadogan told Allied Press this week his region’s culture of people looking out for each other had helped his district get vaccination numbers up.

Queenstown Lakes mayor Jim Boult said his district’s strong response to vaccination showed how well residents understood the threats posed by Covid-19.

Additional reporting Grant Miller