4 Feb 2022

Māori reach 90% first Covid-19 vaccination dose milestone

3:56 pm on 4 February 2022

Ninety percent Māori have now received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine as authorities push for higher rates.

Dozens of locals turned up to a Covid-19 vaccination clinic at Mõkau at the boundary of Taranaki and the Waitomo District on Tuesday, set up by Māori health provider Tui Ora.

Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Ministry of Health Immunisation Programme equity group manager Patricia Joseph said it was a significant accomplishment that should be celebrated.

So far, 116,557 Māori have had their booster, about 42 percent of those eligible so far.

"Congratulations to all of our communities, health providers, partners and iwi for their part in this achievement, in particular Māori health providers that operate throughout the motu including some of our most remote regions," Joseph said.

"With Omicron now in our communities, the mahi continues, and we don't stop at 90 percent first doses. We want as many Māori as possible to get double dosed and boosted to ensure those in all our communities have the best protection possible.

"From our kaumātua seeking boosters through to the parents of our 5-11 year old tamariki, we continue to work hard to ensure all communities have the information and access to the Covid-19 vaccine when and where they are throughout Aotearoa.

"While we have reached 90 percent first doses for Māori across Aotearoa, we continue to support the regions that are yet to reach their individual communities to get to 90 percent. We are also focused on the importance of whānau Māori being fully vaccinated to ensure the broadest protection, and this includes getting a booster."

While overall, Māori reached the 90 percent milestone today, rates differed for each DHB.

Ninety-five percent of Māori aged 12 and over at Canterbury and Capital and Coast DHBs are already partially vaccinated.

Northland and Whangarei have the lowest rates for Māori aged 12 and over, with 86 percent in their areas partially vaccinated.

In total, 513,799 Māori aged 12 and over and 115,562 tamariki aged between 5 and 11 are partially vaccinated, according to the ministry's latest vaccination data.

Covid-19 Māori health analyst Rāwiri Taonui told Local Democracy Reporting yesterday that Māori vaccination numbers throughout the country were concerning and had to be lifted urgently before the Omicron variant took hold.

"There's an impression that Omicron causes milder disease and that's true but the scale of cases is so large that even a small percentage of severe illnesses is quite a serious situation."

Taonui was calling on the government to cut the wait time between first and second child vaccinations from eight weeks to three, and to prioritise the tamariki Māori vaccination rollout to avoid repeating the inequities of the national vaccination programme to date.

"This includes targeting low-decile schools with large Māori enrolments," Taonui said.

"At the moment Māori cases are very low. But at some point there's going to be a vector by which Omicron begins to make its way into our community and that is likely to come when our children go back to school and begin mixing with kids from other communities and take the virus home."

The ministry had to release tamariki Māori data to the Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency and other Māori health providers to help them quickly locate children who had yet to be vaccinated, he said.

There were 209 community cases reported today, in Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Lakes, Tairāwhiti, Hawke's Bay, MidCentral and Bay of Plenty, where a resident at a rest-home has tested positive.

Three cases in Nelson/Marlborough will be added to the official tally tomorrow.

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