30 Oct 2021

Disability advocates push for increased efforts to up vaccination rates

1:04 pm on 30 October 2021

A disability advocate says a renewed push is needed to increase the disabled community's vaccination rates.

Tristram Ingram, who is also an epidemiologist and member of the Capital and Coast District Health Board, said since the initial phase of the rollout, rates seem to have plateaued.

He said the Delta outbreak seems to have put a drive to get the community vaccinated on the back foot, with things like media campaigns falling through.

"A lot of the media campaign that directly targeted messaging, for the disabled community seems not to have happened, so really it's felt from the community's perspective as though we're very much on the back foot."

But Dr Ingram said it is hard to determine by exactly how much they are behind because the data available is poor.

"Data hasn't been there to really give evidence to whether equity has been achieved and we think there is more than can be done to really ensure that equity is front of mind with the decision makers," he said.

Dr Ingram said several issues like accessibility and information had not yet been resolved, which would go a long way in helping boost vaccination rates.

He said people had many specific concerns, like how the Pfizer vaccine would interact with certain conditions or medications, that needed resource to answer.

More effort was needed to create accessible vaccination centres too, he said.

At such a centre in Lower Hutt this week, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern acknowledged that things could have been better for the disabled community.

"We do have work to do make sure that we continue to lift those rates given the time the vaccine has been available," Ardern said.

The government this week launched a programme to try and increase resources and accessibility for the disabled community.

The Manaakitanga Journey is a tool with information specific to disabled people, such as accessible centres, how to arrange transport, or how to book sign language interpreters.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs