12 Sep 2021

Iwi urge Māori over 12 years to get Covid-19 vaccine to 'save lives'

11:11 am on 12 September 2021

The iwi that make up Te Arawa have banded together to urge their whānau to get vaccinated against Covid-19.

Te Arawa Lakes Trust chair Sir Toby Curtis said the Delta outbreak had shown how delicate Aotearoa's defence to Covid-19 is, with Māori particularly vulnerable.

"Māori are at least 50 percent more likely to die from Covid-19 than Pākehā and are 2.5 times more likely to need hospitalisation. Only one in five Māori 12 years and over have had two doses of the Covid vaccine, compared to one in three in the general population," Sir Toby said in a statement.

"If you are 12 years or more, we are asking you to book your Covid-19 vaccine today."

He said evidence from around the world - and Aotearoa - showed the vaccine protected from the risk of severe illness, hospitalisation and death due to Covid-19.

"In short, the vaccine is working to save lives. We do not want to revisit the decimation of the Spanish Flu on our people and our whakapapa. If whānau get vaccinated now, they will help to save lives."

Te Arawa Covid-19 Response Hub chair Monty Morrison said the joint statement was about highlighting the importance of getting vaccinated, particularly as the effort moves towards vaccinating rangatahi.

"We want to keep our people safe and are united as a collective in our drive to do that.

"Covid-19 has been difficult for us and we are assuming any other variant will impact us as well, so we want to get our people vaccinated to protect ourselves now and into the future.

"We are aware we have a large young population that we need to reach out to and make sure they get vaccinated."

Te Roopu Hauora o Te Arawa member and Te Runanga o Ngāti Pikiao GP Dr Grace Malcolm said the effects of the virus outweighed any risk of side effects.

"No corners were cut in terms of the safety and scrutiny of the vaccine, which has been Medsafe approved, just like every other vaccination in our country.

"One day the virus may enter our community. If it does, we need to be confident we have taken every possible action to safeguard our people. We can achieve that by encouraging and facilitating as many people as possible to vaccinate."

Another Te Arawa drive-through vaccination clinic will be open in Rotorua on Sunday 26 and Monday 27 September.

"It's as simple as driving in, registering, receiving your vaccination, resting for 15 minutes and then literally driving out. We've had amazing feedback from the clinic last week - there is music, dancing, laughter - and whānau loved it."

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