A milestone dose of the Covid-19 vaccine has been administered to a Tauranga Moana teen, where vaccination rates are some of the lowest in the country.
Paea Uiloa (Ngāi Te Rangi, Te Arawa, Ngāti Tonga) received the 250,000th dose to be administered in the region at Te Rereatukāhia marae by Te Manu Toroa mobile vaccination unit.
It was her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine and she received it on Tuesday.
"I want to get vaccinated so that I can reconnect with my whānau here and overseas," she said.
Her mother, Valarie Uiloa (Ngāi Te Rangi, Te Arawa) said she and her daughter spoke at length about the extra layer of protection the vaccine provides before the 16-year-old rolled up her sleeve.
"If we all get vaccinated, it will bring some normality back to our lives. If we don't, the disconnect with our whānau across the world and the country is going to continue," Uiloa said.
Kawerau has the lowest vaccination rates with 35 percent of its population fully vaccinated. In total 73 percent of the Bay of Plenty population have had their first dose, and 42 percent have had their second dose.
Te Manu Toroa's mobile vaccinating service has been focused on delivering vaccines to high needs Māori communities in the region since it began delivering services in June.
It will have pop up sites and evening clinics around the Bay of Plenty this month, to meet the needs of community and whānau returning to kura and mahi.
Te Manu Toroa Health Services māngai Chris Jacob, who led the clinic at Te Rereatukāhia when the milestone was reached, said the focus is firmly on protecting whakapapa and people too.
The mobile vaccination unit is one of the many kaupapa Māori providers being supported by the Bay of Plenty District Health Board to offer the Covid-19 vaccination to its community in engaging ways - with an emphasis on opportunities and options in the coming weeks.
"Whether it's in a mall, at a community event, or closer to home - together with our partners, we are aiming to be there with information, and in many cases, an opportunity to provide a vaccine. The vaccine continues to offer us the best protection against Covid-19," Bay of Plenty DHB Covid-19 incident controller Trevor Richardson said.