There will be a specific vaccination rollout plan for Māori focused on giving them confidence in receiving the vaccine, Minister for the Covid-19 Response Chris Hipkins says.
In response to questions by Māori Party co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer during question time in Parliament Hipkins said there would be a specific vaccination plan for Māori, to account for the fact that Māori "are at increased risk of exposure to Covid-19 and increased risk of harm if they contract the virus".
The plan will focus on "supporting vaccine confidence" to get "good strong uptake amongst our Māori communities".
"One of the things we're very mindful of is that we need to ensure Māori feel confident in receiving the vaccine and they're more likely to feel confident if we are working and if they're receiving that vaccine that they have an existing trusted relationship with," Hipkins says.
He said Māori would be highly represented in the first phase of the vaccine roll-out because there were high concentrations of Māori working at the airport and managed isolation facilities, and in the second phase when whānau of these workers would be vaccinated.
"Then, as we continue to expand out from there, we're working very closely with Mǡori health providers, because one of the things that we're very mindful of is we need to ensure that Māori feel confident in receiving the vaccine, and they are more likely to feel confident if we are working and if they're receiving that vaccine through health providers that they have an existing trusted relationship with," Hipkins says.
Ngarewa-Packer said the minister must urgently release details of the plan to Māori organisations and the public.
"The plan needs to recognise that Māori have higher vulnerability to Covid-19 at earlier ages than the general population. What we must not see is a situation like with cancer, that Māori have the same screening age as everyone else despite dying years before reaching that age.
"History shows us that Māori have been the ones to suffer the most through pandemics in the past - we must be ahead of the curve now and ensure that doesn't happen."