Free flu vaccinations for kaumātua

By Tema Hemi

A local Māori trust, in conjunction with a local health network in Hamilton, is providing free flu vaccinations to elderly in the city. 

The Pinnacle Midlands Health Network says the move demonstrates to their wider Māori community just how important flu vaccinations are. 

The Rauawaawa Trust says Māori elderly are vulnerable when it comes to winter illness and influenza is the worst.

Māori Health Manager Rawiri Blundell tells Te Kāea, “Rauawaawa is a charitable trust so some of the services we do provide are in hauora for our kaumātua, fifty-five plus.  We have a database of about four hundred kaumātua”.

Another spokesperson from the trust says Māori elderly are also over-represented in flu statistics.

“What we do know is that Māori over sixty-five are three and a half times more likely to get the flu than those of European descent and we know that Māori are over-represented with chronic disease”.

Pinnacle Midland Health network is working in conjunction with the trust and says people need to be a lot more vigilant with illness this winter.

“There’s been some challenges in the northern hemisphere with one of the most difficult flu seasons they've had,” says the spokesperson.

About one in four New Zealanders are affected by the flu each year.  Symptoms can be severe and for some, it can be fatal.

Health Worker Kath Holmes says, “Some of the fears kaumātua have are, some of them have a real phobia of needles- that's one thing- and the other thing is their misconceptions they have about the flu vaccination themselves”.

The free vaccinations aim to reduce the risk of passing on the flu.