A West Coast kaupapa Māori health provider is holding its first vaccination clinic for tamariki near Hokitika this weekend, as the vaccine rollout is extended to children.
Poutini Wāiora is running the vaccination day at Arahura Marae this Saturday for eligible tamariki, and anyone else who would like to get vaccinated or receive a booster.
Acting chief executive Lisa Tumahai said the Pfizer vaccine for tamariki was a lower dose than the vaccine for adults and would help to reduce the severity of Covid-19 if contracted and to slow the community spread of the virus.
"We're pleased to offer a safe space at Arahura Marae for whānau and tamariki to get vaccinated where they can connect with their whakapapa, whenua and tīpuna.
"While tamariki are less likely to become severely sick or be hospitalised due to Covid-19, the virus is still a major health risk for communities and some children may still get very sick."
Tumahai said the West Coast, Te Tai Poutini, received its first weak positive coronavirus case this week, and it was important the region was prepared before more cases turn up in the community.
"After spending the holidays with my two four-month-old moko, the importance of protecting our vulnerable tamariki is front of mind for me. I want my whānau to grow up in this Covid-19 world strong and healthy."
Tumahai said the Māori population is young, with more than 30 percent of all whānau under the age of 15.
"That's another reason why it's so important parents, caregivers and legal guardians consider vaccinating eligible tamariki, to help protect future generations of their whānau and the continuation of their whakapapa."
As of 18 January, 83 percent of Māori 12 years and older on the West Coast had received two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine.
The vaccine is optional for young tamariki and Poutini Waiora kaimahi are happy to have a hui with anyone seeking more information about how it works.
To be fully immunised against Covid-19, tamariki need two doses of the vaccine, which will usually be given at least eight weeks apart.
"Our friendly nurses are available for a kōrero to answer any pātai. The vaccine is safe, and there is no pressure to get your tamariki vaccinated."
To make the day a fun experience there will be bouncy castles, ice creams and a sausage sizzle.
There will be more opportunities to get vaccinated in the coming months, with a follow up clinic to be held at the Arahura Marae in February. The 4WD mobile clinics will also visit rural communities and pop up clinics will be held around the region.
Anyone can turn up at the marae on Saturday for their vaccine, but whānau are encouraged to book ahead by visiting www.bookmyvaccine.nz or contacting District Coordinator Hamiria Hutana (03 755 6451). Transport can also be arranged by request.