Thursday 19 August 2021 

Unvaccinated Māori and Pasifika must be prioritised to receive their first COVID-19 vaccination 

Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā says that due to the current COVID-19 outbreak, the Government must immediately prioritise Māori and Pasifika in the COVID-19 vaccination programme.

 

“Aotearoa is staring in to the eye of a perfect storm and we are in a space where we need to act swiftly in order to save lives. Māori and Pasifika communities are now in serious peril from COVID-19,” co-leader of Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā, Professor Paparangi Reid said. 

 

“To ensure protection, the Government must commit to a change in the COVID-19 vaccination programme and prioritise unvaccinated Māori and Pasifika to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination immediately.” 

 

Professor Reid says that partial vaccination will go some way to ensuring Māori and Pasifika communities are protected, as well as place them on a guaranteed pathway to full COVID-19 vaccination coverage from a second dose. 

 

“We have frighteningly low vaccination rates and much of that is due to the Government’s failure to understand and implement a vaccination programme that best meets the Māori and Pasifika population profiles.”

 

“The Government’s constant one-size-fits-all approach now places Māori and Pasifika right in the pathway of COVID-19 and to be quite honest, they must act now to prevent serious illness and even death in Māori and Pasifika communities.”

 

Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā says that the COVID-19 vacination programme must first focus on kaumātua and elderly, people with long term health conditions and hapū mama and their whānau who are currently unvaccinated. Once there is good coverage of people who fit these profiles, the programme should then extend to all Māori and Pasifika. 

 

“Pausing second doses to ensure those who have not received a vaccination get at least some coverage is the best and safest approach now,” Professor Reid said. 

 

Additional to failing to deliver an equitable COVID-19 vaccination programme the rōpū adds that the Ministry of Health’s unwillingness to commit to best practice ethnicity data collection and address flaws in the National Health Index (NHI) system will undoubtedly result in impacts on Māori and Pasifika. 

 

 

“From the very beginning, we have been calling for the Ministry of Health to implement accurate methods of ethnicity data collection and to address issues with the NHI system to ensure good monitoring and reporting on what is happening in Māori and Pasifika communities.

 

“At every step of the pandemic response, and despite having a membership that includes some of our country’s leading experts in health data collection and monitoring, they have ignored us.”

 

“The very reason that Urutā stood up was because we were concerned that the Government would not have the best interests of Māori at heart. It is truly upsetting to see that over time, all our concerns are proving to be true.” Professor Reid said. 

 

The first vaccine is mean Māori mean!

Mātāmua, ko te wero Tuatahi!