Health ministers get their first Covid-19 jab

By Whatitiri Te Wake

Given the rise of misinformation about Covid-19 and vaccines, both Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins and Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall received their first round of Pfizer vaccines in an attempt to build trust among New Zealanders.

“We're working really hard to get good and impartial fact-based and health-based information out so people can make informed decisions,” Hipkins said

“We're leading the vaccination campaign, so we need to show that we have confidence in the vaccine”

But when asked why Associate Minister of Māori Health Peeni Henare wasn’t being vaccinated today, Minister Hipkins said it was a matter of “logistics.”

“It's a question of where people are. Parliament is not sitting this week and we've obviously got the Easter break. It just depends where people are. The health ministers all have clearance to do that anytime over the next couple of weeks” he said.

Hipkins said he was concerned by the quantity of misinformation circulating in social media. He believed prominent Māori would play a role in curbing worries Māori might have about the vaccine.

King led the way

“We're also working to make sure our kaumātua are coming forward and having their vaccination. It's good role-modelling.

“We're seeing a good degree of interest there, with high-profile people who are in the age bracket for example that we've moved up the sequencing framework. We'll be asking them to come forward.”

Just last week Kingi Tuheitia received the first vaccine.

Kingi Tuheitia and Makau Ariki Atawhai have encouraged whānau to make their own choice based on good information.

They said they had chosen to receive the vaccine because they believed it was a good and positive step forward for their health, the health of their whānau and all others in Aotearoa.

So far, there have been just over 66,000 doses administered to the priority groups. The Prime Minister has opted to wait her turn, with no certain date on when she will receive hers.

“I'm looking to join the queue when we move into the more general rollout amongst the wider population,” she said

Associate Minister for Māori Health Peeni Henare is scheduled to get his first vaccine next Wednesday at Takapuwāhia Marae, in Porirua.