Māori, Pasifika the target of Auckland vaccination drive

Corazon Miller
Source: 1News

Māori and Pacific health providers have joined forces in a final push to get to those unvaccinated holdouts in South Auckland a jab, ahead of the city’s borders reopening this week.

Hundreds of staff from South Seas Health Care, the Whānau Ora Battalion, Manukau Urban Authority and the Turuiki Healthcare vaccination fleets hit the southern suburbs on Monday, as part of a two-day vaccination blitz.

More than a month after all Auckland DHBs hit the 90 per cent double-dose milestone, Māori and Pacific peoples are still lagging behind – especially in Counties Manukau.

The DHB still needs to get more than 9000 Māori and 6500 Pacific people a second jab to hit that 90 per cent target. Waitemata and Auckland DHB have now reached 81 and 84 per cent of Māori fully vaccinated, compared to just 76 per cent for Counties Manukau.

For Pacific peoples, 86 per cent of those in the Waitemata are fully vaccinated, compared to 85 per cent in Auckland, and 84 per cent in Counties Manukau.

South Seas chief executive Sila Vaisola-Sefo said this push was about getting that final few who may still be on the fence.

“We’ve been consistent with our message, do it for your family, do it for your kids, do it for their futures.”

Monday’s drive is being helped by the recent release of key data enabling the workers to target the exact streets where there appears to be a higher rate of unvaccinated Māori.

This information was only released after the Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency called for a judicial review of the Ministry of Health’s decision not to release it for privacy reasons.

Whānau Ora chief executive John Tamihere said the delay has been costly.

“We needed to get our information really quickly to head off a lot of disinformation. We are now mining a very difficult tail (of unvaccinated) now as a consequence.”

South Seas strategic engagement manager Shaun Tautali has been a key part of the community vaccination drive in South Auckland for months. He said getting people onside requires a community approach.

“It’s always a bit of anxiety, a bit of a lack of understanding of what the vaccine is. It’s really important we have the educators, we have the nurses and the doctors to come with us, and just really talk to the people with a bit of care and understanding.”

Ōtara local, Melissa, said having the vaccination teams come to her, made it easier for her to get the jab.

“They actually came to my gate and gave me my shot, at the gate, saved me from going out with my children.”

Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio, said Monday’s collaboration between Māori and Pacific organisations is an example of how things can be done better.

“Governments can’t do this alone. Government agencies can’t be dependent on themselves,” he said. “This is about all of us working together because we are dealing with a crisis.”

Monday’s efforts saw more than 150 people getting a jab, with the community workers hoping to get at least that again on Tuesday.