Wainuiomata Marae doing its bit to get vaccination numbers up

By Whatitiri Te Wake

The Wainuiomata vaccination centre at the local marae played host to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today. Marae leaders say they are pleased with the uptake of vaccinations among the community though they say social issues continue to impact Māori turning up to be vaccinated.

Inez Faitala and her husband Jeremiah were among locals who arrived today to be vaccinated. Although apprehensive, they say they did it for their week-old son.

“We're anxious about it but we got it for our baby. We want to protect him through my milk.”

The vaccination centre has been operating since June. Kokiri Health general manager Teresea Olsen says that while they vaccinate up to 300 per day, there are some barriers for whānau that have a huge impact.

“Why would they want to come and get a vaccination if they're living in violence? Why would they come and get a vaccination if they're hungry? That's not their priority.”

Prime Minister Jacinda Arden visited the vaccination centre today, talking to students of Rongotai College who showed up to be vaccinated.

“I’m excited to see here at this vaccination centre so many young people and the rangatahi coming to be vaccinated. Just talking to them you can hear, they’ve had questions. In large part they’ve overcome those by talking to their peers, talking to other young people who have had the vaccine and made the decision themselves to be vaccinated.”

Just under 30% of Māori are fully vaccinated. In an effort to change that, Olsen and her team are doing all they can to bring that number up – even confirming that they too will be launching a vaccination bus in the coming weeks.

“We spend a lot of time on the phones, talking to our whānau about coming for their second grab. If not why not, can we rebook you? Can we pick you up?”