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Call to improve Māori Covid-19 vaccination rates

Teisha Cloos -

The Māori COVID-19 vaccination rate is sitting around two-thirds that of the general population.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) report 326,097 Māori have had their first doses whilst only 181,556 have had their second dose.

This is the lowest vaccine uptake compared to Pacific peoples, Asian and European or other tracked by the MOH.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says Māori vaccination rates have been front of mind for the government.

Chris Hipkins. Photo Supplied.

"We are acutely aware that there are pockets in our communities that do have higher concentrations of Māori, higher concentrations of people in lower socioeconomic neighbourhoods who have not been vaccinated, and we need to get those rates up," he said.

Māori health services in Auckland are ramping up to push the vaccination figures higher now restrictions may be easing in the coming weeks.

Chief executive of Te Whānau o Waipareira Trust, John Tamihere said he believes Māori has been put on the back foot.

"The whole system was designed without our voice, even though we raised it."

"We would have rolled out a totally different vaccination programme in our community. We still will, and it will work as long as all these people get out of our way," he said.

"The problem we've got [is] we're walking into a perfect storm and Māori are in a very difficult position."

It has been a month since people 12-years and over have been eligible for the vaccine, with 55 per cent of Māori having had their first dose.

National Party leader Judith Collins said her party did not want to single out Māori as the group holding back the rest of the country.

"We need to get those Māori rates up, but we need to get the rates up for everybody and that is the point, isn't it?" Collins said.

"We're not going to discriminate and... Covid doesn't discriminate on ethnicity. What it does do is it has worse effects on people who have comorbidities."

The plan is to build trust with Māori and to go door-to-door, taking the vaccination to them creating a more familiar environment.

By Teisha Cloos


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