A South Auckland leader is praising the Government for prioritising elderly people in the area for its Covid-19 vaccine roll-out, but calls for the whole community to be given a place first in line.
The Government announced today it will allocate 40,000 vaccine courses to Māori and Pacifica health providers this month to target the elderly first, among the most vulnerable to the coronavirus.
The roll-out of vaccines for anyone aged over 65 or who have underlying health conditions that live in Counties Manuakau will be given first priority, including family that they live with.
Manukau Ward Councillor Efeso Collins said it's a step in the right direction.
"I maintain that we have the greatest exposure as South Aucklanders to the border which means we are susceptible to the virus getting through, which is why we should be a priority," he told the Herald.
"The outbreaks have been in South Auckland, whenever we go into lockdown. South Auckland has been where the unfortunate activities have been."
Collins is urging the rest of New Zealand to understand that vaccinating South Aucklanders means the rest of the country has a greater chance of staying safe.
"I understand there might be people from the outside looking in, thinking 'you're jumping the queue here'. But if we take a logical, pragmatic approach, I think everyone will understand that South Auckland has been where the outbreaks have happened."
Collins is confident there will be a high uptake of the Covid-19 vaccine among the elderly in the community, despite levels of hesitancy. He said it comes down to the right education.
"We've seen in studies coming out that people in South Auckland have been hesitant, that's going to be part of the discussions in the household.
"Those over 65 who have first call on the vaccine are going to have to unpack what their concerns are, which is why it's so important for community workers to be able to get into the home and respectfully work through these issues."
Other South Auckland leaders are applauding the Government and urging the community to be proactive.
"When the opportunity to get vaccinated arrives we must take it. Not just for ourselves and our whānau, but especially for our mokopuna, and those unborn still to come," said Manukau Urban Māori Authority chairperson Bernie O'Donnell.
He said today's announcement is "light at the end of the tunnel".
Manurewa Marae chief executive Takutai Moana Natasha Kemp said it's time for the next strategy of finding ways to live with Covid-19, just like New Zealand has done with the flu and MMR.
Meanwhile, Te Puea Memorial Marae chairman Huri Dennis acknowledges residents who may still be hesitant.
"I can understand the anxiety about the vaccination, as there still is not a lot known about it but right now it is the first line of protection for us as a people in terms of trying to get back to the new normal.
"I'm pleased Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency, Turiki Healthcare and our Māori providers are sitting in the front of the delivery of our vaccines, I think this will help lower some of the anxieties," he said.