In Te Whanganui-a-Tara, a Maori-run mobile vaccine clinic that focuses on going to emergency and transitional housing is being used to help curb vaccine concerns in the community.
In the first week of Level 4, Kahungunu Whānau Services launched the mobile vaccine service, Waka Ora, and was installed yesterday at the Strathmore Park Community Center..
Vaccination rates for Maori are slowly increasing, but those under 60 still lag behind other ethnicities.
Shirley Tinu-Hamilton, 72, is one of the people who decided to get vaccinated against Covid at the mobile clinic.
It was his first Covid-19 vaccine and the first puncture in many years.
“This is my second home, I come here regularly and I meet the people who work here. It is much better than booking an appointment,” he said.
Irihapeti Te Aho came to the center to receive her second vaccination, after the medical center she went to for the first time canceled her appointment twice due to changes in time between each dose.
“When they told me the pop-up clinic would come, I decided that it would be much more accessible for me. I wanted to get my second injection to protect my whānau and the community I work with.”
He said that the process at the center was much faster than at the medical center.
Kahungunu Whānau Services CEO Ali Hamlin-Paenga said that accessibility to health services is a problem for Maori, so the creation of Waka Ora was a response to that.
“In terms of Maori health, accessibility has always been an issue, we are truly aware that the current systems and settings are not working for our people and for those who are most vulnerable.
“Calling to make a reservation is not in their psyche, so we actually have to be in the community.
“We are here to help the Strathmore Park community, and to be accessible to those of our whānau who would not normally attend vaccinations or even participate in any type of health service. We are here to share the information that will allow them to take a informed decision on whether to vaccinate or not, “said Hamlin-Paenga.
Vaccinator Asmita Elliot said that going to the communities that need vaccines is a response to getting the most vulnerable communities inoculated.
“I really like that the whānau can come to the clinics and ask face-to-face questions with a nurse and ask questions about vaccines. They can come and ask questions and we give them honest feedback on the vaccine so that they make an informed decision.”
She said that the day went well with many whānau of different ethnicities and origins who came to receive a vaccine.
Jennifer Mason, coordinator of the Strathmore Park Community Center, said that this kind of partnership with Kahungunu Whānau Services has made people feel comfortable getting their shots.
“It has been wonderful, the people who use the center regularly have come to get vaccinated, even some who told me two months ago that they would never receive the vaccine, have come forward to receive it.”