Saturday, November 27

Covid-19: Maori-run vaccination clinic delivers 1,200 doses in three days

A Maori-run Covid-19 vaccination clinic in Hawke’s Bay is experiencing unprecedented demand.

Cars line up as people wait to get vaccinated.

Cars line up as people wait to get vaccinated.
Photo: RNZ / Tom Kitchin

The self-service clinic run by the iwi authority in Hastings, Te Taiwhenua or Heretaunga, planned to vaccinate 300 people a week until Christmas.

But they only vaccinated more than 1,200 people in three days.

Whānau waited in a line of cars, their engines running, as they proceeded to the vaccination shop.

Monique Heki was in one of them and was eager to get her second hit.

She liked the drive-through setup.

“I think for whānau, especially to be able to meet up, and not have to wait in a long line, you can stay in the comfort of your car, listen to your radio, charge your phones, make it accessible to whānau as possible,” he said.

Heki said Maori were worse off in pandemics, like the Spanish flu 100 years ago.

Forty-two out of every 1000 Maori died, compared to just five out of every 1000 Pākehā.

So, Heki said, Maori need these kinds of easy and accessible initiatives.

“The evidence tells us that Maori predominantly don’t do well in situations like this, so the more we can proactively go out and do this for our whānau, for ourselves, the better we will be for our whānau, hapū and iwi.”

After her first vaccination, she hardly felt anything, so she felt safe driving to the store.

Monique Heki is about to receive her second Covid-19 vaccine from her car.

Monique Heki is about to receive her second Covid-19 vaccine from her car.
Photo: RNZ / Tom Kitchin

“I had to ask [the nurse] Are you sure it came in? Because it was just a little scratch, so it didn’t hurt at all. At night there was a little tenderness at the injection site, there has been no problem. “

Afterwards, he waited in observation for 15 minutes and the nurses came to see how he was doing.

Jo and Hari were two nurses on the observation team and they explained how it worked.

“Usually we just walk up and down rows of cars and just ask people if they’re okay, we just take a look and check if they look okay. Visually checking everyone in every car.”

Afterwards, Heki had no side effects.

She said it was good to see people in droves too, even if they were masked and socially estranged in their cars, part of the team of five million.

“This is showing how we are all part of that team, so this is really amazing,” he said.

“It is very nice to come out of the closet, I must admit that I have stayed at home since we entered the confinement, but no, this is really positive.”

And it was also an awesome day at Hawke’s Bay.

“It’s beautiful, I feel like it’s great to see that all the Taiwhenua staff are wearing pōtae, hats, so it’s amazing.”

Hastings Rural CEO Waylyn Tahuri-Whaipakanga said they had to increase enormously to keep up with demand.

“Before closing, we had planned to do 300 a week until Christmas on a Friday, just one clinic.”

Waylyn Tahuri-Whaipakanga, CEO of Hastings Rural.

Waylyn Tahuri-Whaipakanga, CEO of Hastings Rural.
Photo: RNZ / Tom Kitchin

But now they had made over 1000 in just three days.

“Today, there are about 300 reserved, on Saturday 520 vaccines were made and on Friday there would have been another around 400”.

She said that to cope with the additional demand, other people from the organization who were unable to work during the confinement joined in.

“Many of the kaimahi who are in this morning are from our drug treatment unit [at] Hawke’s Bay Regional Prison. I can see when I walk, I see that many of them are from the drug treatment unit, so they are reassigned to this service because this is our priority today. “

The latest data from Hawke’s Bay DHB shows that 28 percent of Maori in the region have received at least one dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. This is higher than the national count, which shows that around 20 percent of Maori have received at least one dose.

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