13 May 2020

Gap between Māori and non-Māori vaccination rates closing

4:41 pm on 13 May 2020

The Ministry of Health has made inroads into closing the gap between Māori and non-Māori vaccination rates, which it credits to Māori health providers proactively reaching out to kaumātua and kuia.

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Photo: 123RF

There has been a strong push from the Ministry of Health for Māori, especially those over 65, to get vaccinated for the flu, with hapū and Māori health providers across the country setting up pop-up clinics.

More Māori aged over 65 have been vaccinated in the five weeks from 18 March (27,196) than in the entirety of last year (23,572) - a 5 percent increase.

This has reduced the gap between non-Māori and Māori vaccination rates for this age group from 12 percent to 9 percent.

A Ministry of Health spokesperson said it is a result of a proactive flu vaccination programme that has used the likes of pop-up and door-to-door vaccination programmes to target vulnerable populations.

The ministry acknowledged the work of Māori healthcare providers - like Te Kupenga Hauora-Ahuriri in Napier - which has been proactive in getting kaumātua vaccinated.

Deputy director-general of Māori health John Whaanga was pleased with the improvement.

"Anything that we've got that's showing we're increasing and improving and addressing Māori health inequities - and there were significant inequities in Māori vaccination rates - I'm always pleased when we can see a discernible difference, but we also know there's some way to go."

Whaanga said the ministry was currently considering proposals for more Māori vaccination programmes over the next few months.

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