Over three-quarters of Maori aged 65 and over have received their flu jab in Hawke's Bay this year.
Maori in Hawke's Bay aged 65 and over have received more flu immunisations than all other ethnicities in the region for the first time.
A total of 75.8 per cent of Māori aged 65 and over in Hawke's Bay had received their flu immunisation by September 4 – ahead of non-Māori and non-Pacific at 72.7 per cent.
Hawke's Bay District Health Board acting executive director health improvement and equity Patrick Le Geyt said the increased uptake among Māori aged over 65 could be credited to a focus on removing barriers and access to care.
"This is a first which is worth celebrating," he said. "It's a great achievement as we work to reduce health inequities and improve overall health and wellbeing of our Māori communities.
"Nationally, Hawke's Bay is also the second-highest region in the country for immunisations of this group."
Earlier this year, DHBs were tasked with increasing influenza immunisation rates because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Le Geyt said HBDHB created a working group comprising its immunisation, Māori and Pacific Health teams, Māori providers, pharmacy and the region's Primary Health Organisation, Health Hawke's Bay.
"Community contacts were utilised to encourage people to visit their GP or pharmacy to get a flu vaccine," he said.
"Pop-up clinics with Māori health providers and churches with a large Pacific congregation were also organised to remove barriers and make getting a flu immunisation more easily accessible."
Le Geyt said Covid-19 had made people more aware of the importance of getting a flu immunisation.
Certain people are eligible for a free flu immunisation including pregnant women, people aged 65 years or older, and people fewer than 65 with diabetes, most heart or lung conditions and some other illnesses.
Children aged 4 years or under who have visited their doctor many times or had a stay in hospital for asthma or other breathing problems are also eligible for a free vaccine.