Saturday, December 4

Pasifika’s uptake of Covid-19 vaccine is ‘really heartwarming’, says GP

Pasifika now leads the way in comprehensive vaccinations among people 40 and older.

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Photo: AFP

The community has been the target of abusive messages after it was revealed that a religious service just days before the shutdown has spawned a large subset of Covid-19 cases.

The most recent data, which records the period up to Tuesday, when the age of eligibility was still 40, shows that 57 percent of Pasifika over 60 are fully vaccinated and 31 percent of those aged 40 to 59 years.

That was higher than any other ethnicity for those age groups.

The president of the Pasifika GP network, Api Talemaitoga, said those numbers were cause for celebration and reflected the situation he was seeing on the front lines.

“What we are seeing is that the people of the Pacific really come forward asking to be vaccinated if we just facilitate it and make it permissive and easy for these communities, and that is what we have seen in the last seven days.”

Most encouraging was the number of young people who came forward to be vaccinated, he said.

“What really amazes me is 12-15 year olds who have come with their parents to their parents ‘dates, or even their grandparents’ dates, wanting to get vaccinated. And that’s really comforting.”

While Pasifika still lagged behind other groups in the first doses administered, nearly three-quarters of those over 60 and half of those aged 40 to 59 had received at least their first puncture.

Pasifika Medical Association board member Maryann Heather said she expected it to increase in the coming weeks.

Dr. Api Talemaitoga

President of Pasifika GP Network Api Talemaitoga.

“Having this latest outbreak and having half of our numbers affected by being Pasifika, actually galvanized people and scared people into coming forward and asking for vaccines.

“So what we have seen, especially through the Ōtara Vaccination Center, our number has really increased. In the last seven days, we have had more than 3000 vaccines and a little more than 60 percent are Pasifika.”

A major subset of the latest outbreak focused on a Pasifika church.

In reaction, the community had been the target of abuse and virulence, many of which suggested that the peoples of the Pacific were not doing their part for the country.

Manukau Ward Councilor Efeso Collins said Pasifika had responded in the best way possible.

“Our form of retaliation has been to go out and get vaccinated and keep everyone safe, and I think that reflects the kind of community we are,” he said.

“We are all in a position where we know that what is required of all of us is to take the precautions that we must take if we are to have a safe, vibrant and prosperous future.”

Pacific Trust Otago vaccine program leader Losā Moata’ane said the community in the south was also helping non-Pacific people.

“The Pasifika communities are really doing their part and doing more,” said Dr. Moata’ane.

“Even in our place … we are vaccinating people who are not Pasifika and who are passing through here. So I think it is unfair to say that our community is the community that is the problem.”

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