Māori health providers in Whanganui will begin vaccinating Māori and Pasifika aged 50 and older against Covid-19.
Whānau aged over 16 who live with them will also be offered the vaccine.
The vaccinations are being rolled out from this week – earlier than guidelines set by the government’s national vaccination programme – because Māori and Pasifika aged 50+ are at high risk of becoming seriously ill from the coronavirus.
The chair of Whanganui DHB’s iwi relationship group Hauora ā Iwi, Mary Bennett, said iwi health advocates and providers had worked “diligently” with the District Health Board and Regional Health Network to secure vaccinations for the “most vulnerable” at the same time as non-Māori over the age of 65.
“We have been really diligent in the equity space. We know that Māori die seven years younger than non-Māori. We know that the health statistics are negatively biased for Māori. Our people have a lot of underlying conditions and our conversations have been about what does equity then look like if we’re thinking about vaccination.”
Whanganui health provider Te Oranganui is setting up clinics across the city and working with Māori health providers in the wider region, together with the Regional Health Network and the DHB.
Clinics will open to give people their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine at St Joseph’s Hall-St Mary’s Parish in Guyton Street, Te Waipuna Medical Centre in Campbell Street and Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Ātihaunui-ā-Pāpārangi at Pūtiki. A second dose will be needed three weeks later before the vaccine is fully effective.
Bennett said the Whanganui DHB had been “very supportive” of a whānau-centred approach which will see vaccination offered to all those over the age of 16 living in a household with Māori and Pasifika aged 50+.
“Very few of our people live in aged residential care – the majority are actually at home with whānau or they have whānau coming in to support them. Those whānau also have access to the vaccination.
“If we have one or two kaumātua living in a household with six other people, then those six people will be vaccinated. We’re looking after the whole household not just one or two people within it.”
Disabled people and non-Māori over the age of 65 can also be vaccinated in this phase of the Te Oranganui vaccine rollout.
Bennett said booking an appointment was critical to ensure the required amount of vaccine is available.
“We do need to know how many people are going to be coming in on the day so that we make sure we have enough vaccine.
“We don’t want to waste the vaccine. We are regularly ordering vaccine – all of the clinics across the regions are planned and we know how many vaccines we’re going to need per day, per site, per week, and that’s the importance of ringing up to make the appointment.”
Bennett said people did not have to be enrolled with Te Oranganui to book an appointment. The dedicated free-phone number is 0800 202 004.
Details of clinics in the wider Whanganui, Ruapehu and Rangitīkei districts are being finalised including rural clinics at Rātana Pā, Waverley and in Whanganui River communities.
Local Democracy Reporting is a public interest news service supported by RNZ, the News Publishers’ Association and NZ On Air.