8 Apr 2021

Covid-19 vaccine is safe - Minister for Pacific Peoples

7:54 pm on 8 April 2021

New Zealand's Minister for Pacific Peoples is afraid of needles but has taken a jab as an example for others.

Aupito William Sio said since he was a young boy he had never liked needles.

The minister is welcomed with an ava ceremony at the Otara Vaccination Centre

The minister is welcomed with an ava ceremony at the Otara Vaccination Centre Photo: RNZ Pacific / Christine Rovoi

But he turned up at the Vaccination Centre in Otara, South Auckland, today to get his jab.

Aupito said it was important he got vaccinated to give the community confidence and assurance that the vaccine was safe.

He said that while he didn't like needles, getting vaccinated was the right thing to do

And Aupito, who was also the Associate Minister for Health, urged everyone to get vaccinated.

"I don't like needles. Have never liked needles from when I was a young kid. I didn't look at the needle. I just pulled up my t-shirt and hope it doesn't hurt."

Aupito said he was assured by his colleagues who had received the vaccine first.

"But I think it's important and as a government for those of us who are ministers of health have been asked to get vaccinated.

"It's a strong signal to support our front-line and our border workers and those who are getting vaccinated."

The minister said he had made a promise to Pasifika communities at the beginning of the vaccination campaign.

"That when it's my turn to get vaccinated, I will make sure to let our communities know to give them a sense of confidence.

"We all must get vaccinated to keep ourselves safe, keep our families safe and of course to keep New Zealand safe."

Is the vaccine safe?

Absolutely, he said.

"The science tells us so."

Following his injection, Aupito said he "didn't feel a thing".

Aupito William Sio at Otara's vaccination centre

Aupito William Sio at Otara's vaccination centre Photo: RNZ Pacific / Christine Rovoi

Minister assures public of vaccine safety

Aupito said he was constantly asked by the public if the vaccine was safe.

"I can categorically say it's absolutely safe. The vaccines have created through the collaboration of all our scientists around the world and the international community and they have deemed it safe.

"In addition to that, Medsafe New Zealand's regulator has approved its safety."

That's one of the reasons he said he was getting vaccinated.

Aupito William Sio gets vaccination

Aupito William Sio gets vaccination Photo: RNZ Pacific / Christine Rovoi

The other reason was he wanted to travel overseas.

On Tuesday Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced conditions for quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand had been met, and a bubble would start on 19 April.

Aupito said the trans-Tasman bubble proved that Aotearoa, Australia and the Pacific working together to successfully contain and eliminate Covid-19 was a good model for others.

He said the trans-Tasman bubble would also help reunite Pasifika families on both sides of the ditch.

But he urged people to get vaccinated before they travelled.

"I know a lot of our communities want to travel and until we get everyone vaccinated this is important.

Aupito said the announcement of the trans-Tasman bubble was fantastic news.

"It's not just the business community that is celebrating that news but also our families. Children, grandparents who all wanting to go. I know the grand-dads are all wanting to travel.

"But they all must get vaccinated first before you travel. There is a warning, the virus is still out there. That silent enemy is still behaving like a virus"

The minister also said people needed to plan for the case of community transmission that people didn't get caught out.