Tai Tokerau Māori have been given a first hand account of the Government's Covid19 vaccine rollout - and asked where it can be most effective - at a series of hui hosted by fellow Northlander Peeni Henare.
Associate Minister for Māori Health Peeni Henare (Ngāti Hine, Ngāpuhi) concluded the first-round of hui with whānau and hāpori in Te Tai Tokerau yesterday, discussing the Government's plan for the Covid-19 vaccine rollout and seeking answers as to where funding will be most effective in vaccination efforts.
The rollout of the vaccine for non-border workers began in Te Tai Tokerau on Monday in Kaitaia and is set to begin in Whangārei, Kaikohe, and Dargaville at the beginning of next week. Around 42,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine have already been administered throughout the country.
Henare began the Te Tai Tokerau roadshow at Terenga Parāoa Marae on Tuesday morning, with a number of Māori health providers, whānau, hapū, and iwi leaders in attendance. The MP for Tāmaki Makaurau, who is from Moerewa, was joined by the deputy director general of Māori health John Whaanga (Ngāti Rākaipaaka, Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Rongomaiwahine) and Dr Mataroria Lyndon (Ngāti Kahu, Ngāti Hine, Ngātiwai, Ngāti Whātua), who both stressed the importance of pakeke getting vaccinated at the earliest opportunity.
"We all know there is nothing more important than sitting face-to-face to have this conversation... Each and everyone of you has outreach in the community far beyond ours," Henare told the crowd.
The Government announced almost four weeks ago that their priority for the rollout of the vaccine under phase two were kaumātua, kuia, those living with them, people with pre-existing health conditions, and Tāmaki ki te Tonga (South Auckland). The purpose of the roadshow is for the Government to learn how it can best support community health providers in order to ensure an efficient and effective rollout of the vaccine throughout the country.
"A single mainstream approach is not going to reach all of our people," Whaanga said.
According to Whaanga, there will be two tranches of funding made available to health providers rolling out the vaccine, on top of mainstream funding that will be made available. Tranche one will see $11 million made available to support organisations to prepare for the vaccine rollout in their communities. Tranche two will be tailored specifically towards ongoing vaccine support services, such as communication and kaiāwhina support. The second lot of funding will include contestable funds for smaller organisations wanting to do outreach in their communities.
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"Communities move a lot faster than we do. Communities have a far greater reach than we do... It's our intention to get funding out to those providers within the next month," Whaanga said.
Some in attendance at Terenga Parāoa said there are concerns in the community about the risks associated with such a quickly developed vaccine and the information being provided by the Government around these. A decision on how and when Aotearoa's Covid-19 vaccine adverse event data will be tracked and released is still being worked through by the Ministry of Health. Henare promised that he would relay the concerns to the right people and return with answers.
"This won't be one hit. We've made it clear that we must come back and close this loop," said Henare.
Meanwhile, Lyndon, who has already received his first dose of the vaccine, tried his best to quell concerns around the vaccine's safety.
"What I see from the evidence is that it is safe, it is effective, and it will save lives," said Lyndon.