After the Waikato as a whole reached 90 per cent of first vaccinations last Sunday, the Waikato DHB is now pushing to bring the region's Māori whānau from 79.5 per cent first jabbed up to the 90 per cent with a special initiative.
The Super Waikato Weekend of vaccination events will target communities throughout the region with a focus on the younger generation. Just 7102 more jabs will achieve the 90 per cent target.
On Saturday, November 27, and Sunday, November 28, pop-up vaccination sites, drive-throughs, prizes, extended hours, music and kai are on offer at numerous Waikato venues to encourage our Māori population and anyone else who has not had their shots.
Join in the fun and come along for your Covid-19 vaccinations. Waikato DHB commissioner Dame Karen Poutasi says this is a key initiative for Waikato. Retiring Iwi Maori Council chairwoman Te Pora Thompson-Evans says she is proud of the progress made with Waikato's kaumātua being 95 per cent vaccinated, but there was still a lot of mahi needed.
"We are encouraging our younger generation – our rangatahi and pakeke - to come forward and achieve 90 per cent to ensure our whakapapa will be looked after and those who are most vulnerable are protected - our pēpi, our mokopuna, our kaumātua and our whānau with underlying health conditions."
Waikato-Tainui chairwoman Linda Te Aho encourages whānau to come out and get vaccinated so they can continue to enjoy summer events and at the same time, protect their whānau and friends.
"With borders [to Auckland] due to open in December, we are going all out to push up Māori vaccination numbers to reach 90 per cent."
At present, 90.1 per cent of the overall eligible Waikato population have received their first dose and 81.4 per cent are fully vaccinated. The Waikato Pacific population also achieved 90 per cent first dose with 9614 first vaccinations given last weekend, and Waitomo district is now the third area in Waikato to achieve over 90 per cent of first doses as 91.1 per cent of the eligible population have received their first jab.
Waikato Covid-19 programme lead Maree Munro thanked Waikato residents last weekend for helping the region achieve the milestone but while this was a great effort, the job was not done yet for the Waikato team.
"We need to reach that 90 per cent fully vaccinated rate. We also need to look at who has been vaccinated. We have a large and vulnerable Māori population who are 7102 [jabs] short of reaching the 90 per cent first-dose target. Although we have vaccinated over 95 per cent of our Māori and Pacific kaumatua who are over 65 years, we need to reach the younger generation to achieve 90 per cent first doses for Māori."
Te Aho says: "We can go a long way to achieving this milestone in one weekend if we go all in."
Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki chief executive Riana Manuel also wants to encourage people to come along this weekend. Her message to all: "Kia kaha, kia maia, kia manawanui Pare Hauraki. Let's protect our whakapapa and get our whānau vaccinated this weekend, mō tātou o Hauraki."
Thompson-Evans makes it clear that people still undecided won't be pressured into getting the jab. "If you still have questions, come down and have a chat with one of our health professionals. There'll be no hard sell, just plenty of answers so you have the information you need to make up your own mind."
People can go to about 20 events across the takiwā this weekend without a booking. Among the participating towns are Ngaruawahia, Hamilton, Kihikihi, Te Awamutu, Otorohanga, Te Kuiti, Thames, Paeroa, Te Aroha, Morrinsville, Tokoroa, Putaruru and Taumarunui.
Waikato's kaupapa Māori providers, the DHB, community houses, councils, and churches are all doing their part to help Māori reach 90 per cent vaccination rates.
Munro says with summer coming, people want to make sure they can get out and about. "Once we move into the new [traffic light] system, you won't be able to do a lot of the things you love unless you are fully vaccinated. That's a big incentive for people to get cracking. The Delta outbreak in Waikato has also been a reminder that Covid-19 can spread far and fast and hits the unvaccinated hardest."
For more information on the weekend events go to the DHB's Super Weekend webpage here.
Waikato's kaupapa Māori and Pacific providers, participating pharmacies and GPs are still continuing their strong support for the vaccination programme, and the region's seven community vaccination clinics will all be open on the weekend.