Curiosity to know what goes in the Covid-19 vaccine is increasing in Whangārei and people are now taking it seriously, says the public health nurse Sue Baker.
A team of three nurses from the Northland District Health Board are vaccinating whānau in their roving pop-up vaccination clinic in town.
Baker says their principal is kaupapa Māori and they are here for any whānau wanting to get vaccinated.
The pop-up clinic that sits in the town centre began in mid-September. So far, the highest vaccination number for one day has been 120 doses.
Baker said they were doing well, especially for a "little team who is out there".
"We also work with other Māori health providers and developed good working relationships with Te iwi o Ngātiwai and Te Hā Oranga in Dargaville. Now we can all work together - if they need support we can go to them and support them as part of the kaupapa.
"We just go wherever we are needed. If a business place gets in touch with public health we organise and go to them. If they want us at five in the morning we will be there, as we have in the past."
Baker said they were seeing a lot more curiosity.
"People are asking really good questions.
"The usual trend we are seeing here is they come and talk to us, go back with something to think about and a little bit curious, and it takes at least three days before they come back and get vaccinated.
"So we stay somewhere for two to three days because we have seen the patterns now on curiosity."
After the events in Northland over the past days, Baker said people who are vaccine-hesitant are coming forward with questions.
"People are really wanting to ask whether there is a tracking device in the vaccine or if it could alter the DNA, because that is very real for them."
The roving clinic plays music and has a nice vibe to attract more people to ask questions.
"People just come here with their curiosity and that is when we sit down with them to have those real conversations.
"Even if we just keep on doing this, I think it is a win.
"We have seen a lot of teenagers coming through now."
Having a Māori point of view and being out there to talk to Māori about misinformation on social media was very important, said Baker.
"We have to be visible to our Māori whānau because there is a lot of fear within our communities.
"There are many reasons, we cannot pinpoint one particular thing. But the generalised view is that they feel we are not being honest with them about what's in the vaccine.
"I hear their concerns because of the previous stuff and the history with our Māori community. The healthcare system is already on the backfoot. Hence why the DHB has seen this as an opportunity to get out there and talk with the people."
Baker said many vaccine-hesitant people had taken the vaccine after the information was made clear to them.
"For example, Mangawhai has had an uptake in the vaccine and there were many anti-vaxxers doing silent protests in the area. Once they have actually come and talked to us, we found there is no hesitation and they just feel bullied about not getting it.
"There have to be opportunities for people to come freely without being ostracised."
NDHB has four roving clinics run by public health nurses – two in Whangārei, one in the Mid-North and one in the Far North.