3 Dec 2021

Campaign launched to boost vaccination rates amongst disabled Māori

10:04 pm on 3 December 2021

A kaupapa Māori disability provider is sharing a message to support vaccine take up amongst the disabled Māori community.

Nurse keeping company disabled lonley person

Photo: 123RF

Te Roopu Taurima has launched the fresh new campaign 'Werohia mō to whānau'- 'Do it for your whānau' on international day of persons with disabilities.

It is a response to concerns that disabled people have been neglected when it comes to receiving the right information and information about vaccines leading to hesitancy amongst some.

Manawhakahaere of Te Roopu taurima Tania Thomas said the campaign is aimed at encouraging disabled Māori and their whānau to get vaccinated.

She said it was created to be accessible by including a range of formats like sign language, te reo Māori and English.

"The purpose of the campaign is to encourage Māori, particularly disabled Māori and their whānau, to get vaccinated. We were concerned about the low rates of vaccination amongst Māori and wondering how well the message had got out into Māori communities.

"This is our way of providing information that is in a range of formats... and the message is coming from people that are disabled or are whānau members of people who are disabled or from kaimahi, people who work with people who are disabled.

"For us it's important that we try every way possible to get messages out to support people to think about getting vaccinated" she said.

Some in the disabled community have needed more assistance and information towards understanding the safety of the vaccine, Thomas said.

The roopu has responded by providing clear advice and promoting the benefits of being vaccinated such as being protected, keeping each other safe, having the opportunity to socialize, and participate in activities and events with other people.

Another key aspect of the campaign is that it is shared by the Māori community, for the Māori community.

Thomas said the objective was to encourage and prompt discussion about vaccines within various communities.

"There's a series of video clips and each one of the people that talks on those clips gives their reasons and their personal beliefs about why you should get vaccinated.

"We're going to be putting those clips out on Facebook, on our website, we've sent the links out to all our people in our community who we work with in the disability sector," she said.

Lawyer and advocate for human rights and disability Dr Huhana Hickey was supportive of the campaign and said there was a need for it because Māori disabled were one of the lowest vaccinated groups in the country which meant they were at serious risk.

"If you look at the statistics, more than 50 percent of those with Covid are Māori and that's not good when we're just 16 percent of the population.

"Thirty-three percent of Māori are disabled and they're falling behind... our people are dying already, our people die under the current western medical system who are failing our Māori disabled, who've failed Māori over-all, so something like this can help reduce some of that failure and bring about some success," Dr Hickey said.

But she said a contributing factor of disabled Māori being left behind through-out vaccination rates was that from the beginning trusted information regarding the vaccine had not been sent early enough to the disability community so they could be well-informed.

She believed the lack of accessible information specifically for communities like the disabled and the deaf has left room for vaccine hesitance.

"It (the vaccine) is safe, even for disabled people but the information has to get out there.

"The disabled community were left last... If you're providing the information for the most at risk then you're providing the solution for everyone at the table," Dr Hickey said.

Thomas said they hoped the campaign would help those who are undecided about getting the vaccination to either talk to someone who they trust because that's often how Māori communities work together best, by having a kōrero.

She said with Māori already being adversely affected by disproportionate health outcomes, it was crucial for Māori to receive their vaccine so they could be safe.

"If you're vaccinated, you're less likely to get infected, you're less likely to spread it, you're less likely to end up in hospital and you're less likely to die so for us it's absolutely crucial.

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