9 Sep 2021

Pasifika mass vaccination events launching around New Zealand

10:58 am on 9 September 2021

The first of a series of Pasifika mass vaccination events begins today, making immunisations against Covid-19 for communities more accessible.

The first drive-through event which coincides with Tonga Language week - runs from 8.30am-4pm, Thursday to Saturday at the Free Wesleyan Church Of Tonga.

As of this week, 56 percent of the eligible Pacific population 12+ years have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

Pacific Response Co-ordination Team chair Pakilau Manase Lua said Tonga is a proud nation with community spirit and hopes to capture 12-30 year-olds who are yet to be vaccinated.

"We are utilising the same energy you saw in Rugby League World Cup, Mate Ma'a Tonga. In fact our campaign is MMT - Malu'i Ma'a Tonga. Which means to protect Tonga. Bringing the flags out and bringing in a bit of a festive flavour to bring our people to get vaccinated," Pakilau Manase Lua said.

Pakilau Manase Lua.

Pakilau Manase Lua. Photo: Supplied

Up to 60,000 Tongans live in Auckland, the target is to vaccinate at least 3000 Tongans over three days.

University of Otago epidemiologist Michael Baker said it's an effective approach if it works for the community - so long as everyone can access a car.

"Getting as many people as possible vaccinated gives us the best chances of getting through this pandemic with fewest cases of serious illness, fewest possible deaths. So vaccination is incredibly valuable," Michael Baker said.

Dr Colin Tukuitonga

Dr Colin Tukuitonga Photo: PMA

Around 12,000 Niueans reside in the region, but only 4,000 people ages 12 and over have had their first dose.

A drive-through event will be run from September 23-25 at the Latter Day Saints church carpark on Robertsons Road in Māngere.

The majority of Niueans live in South Auckland, Pacific Health expert Dr Collin Tukuitonga said.

They aim to vaccinate 500-600 people a day and says although it is an ethnic specific event and "anyone is welcome," he said.

Meanwhile, a special Niue Festival Vaccination Day in Wellington is happening on September 22.

Other Pacific Festival Days are being planned to add to vaccination efforts - details are yet to be confirmed.

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