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Covid vaccinations clinics in Oamaru help to reach Waitaki Pasifika community

Monday 13 September 2021

More than 240 Waitaki residents, largely from the growing Māori and Pacific communities, received COVID vaccinations in a community-led clinic this past Friday and Saturday.

The Oamaru Pacific Island Community Group, working with Tumai Ora Whānau Services, the Waitaki Multicultural Council, Oamaru Hospital, Southern DHB, and WellSouth Primary Health Network, organised and ran the clinics in the St Paul’s Church hall.

Supporting communities: Heather Johnson, Viv Williams, Rebecca Hall, Jillian Boniface, all of WellSouth,
Jojan McLeod (Waitati Health),  Dr Peter Rodwell, Robyn Keno, Sue Campbell.

Vaccinators came from WellSouth and Oamaru Hospital, along with local clinicians Robyn Keno and Peter Rodwell.

Awhina Akurangi, Kaiwhakatere, Tumai Ora Whānau Services, says: “We have managed to reach within pockets of our hapori(community) that would not have come in without the support of group bookings and it was great to support our rural whānau from the forestry, shearing and dairy industries.

“I feel the clinics-approach has helped dissipate the fear for whānau and aided in the decision to come forward to be vaccination. The presence of our informed rangatahi (Youth) encouraged their peers to have the conversations and come in.”

OPICG General Manager Hana Halalele says the decision to run the clinics was based on requests from the local Pasifika and Māori communities, particularly as many of them work during weekdays and can’t make the regular clinics.  Mrs Halalele says the positive feedback about two earlier community clinics at St Paul’s, particularly seeing familiar Pacific and Maori faces, helped the community feel comfortable to come along and contribute to getting vaccinated as quickly as possible.

For Mrs Halalele, the community-led clinics are important for Pacific people to be connected, resilient and successful and for their culture and identities to be nourished.  Mrs Halalele says “initiating work in our Pacific and Māori communities, and role modelling best Pacific and whānau-based practice, helps bring about the change we need to see so no one is left behind.”

Peter Ellison, WellSouth Associate Māori Health Strategy & Improvement Officer – Primary & Community, said the clinic was a collaborative effort that built on relationships and trust in the community: “We recognise it is vital to make the Covid-19 vaccine available in an environment where people feel welcome and comfortable and delivered by their own community members. We will continue with this approach to reaching unvaccinated populations, and supporting providers wherever they need us.”

Phil Jamieson, CEO of Waitaki Health says “Working alongside our Māori and Pacific communities in supporting this critical initiative is core to Waitaki District Health Services.  It is also great to see Tu Mai Ora support their wider whānau.”

COVID vaccination in the Waitaki District continues to make good progress, with local general practices and pharmacies providing vaccination clinics.

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