New Zealand’s Minister for Pacific Peoples says Pasifika health providers will play a pivotal role in distributing the Covid-19 vaccine to the second priority group, which includes older Pasifika people.

The first priority group included border and managed isolation quarantine workers and their household contacts.

The second priority group are front-line health workers and people living in high-risk settings such as older people in South Auckland, people in residential care and older people particularly Māori and Pacific.

Aupito William Sio told RNZ Pacific that providers have trusted relationships with the communities they serve, and they will be able to identify and vaccinate the Pasifika elderly in their regions.

“The current system is that district health boards are working with providers to contact people directly about their vaccination.

“Pasifika providers will know the families and they will have a good understanding of the community that they will be able to link up with local groups such as churches to both identify and talk with the elderly and provide a safe, familiar environment for people to get vaccinated.

Aupito explained that there will be mobile services that will go to where the families are located.

“There will be temporary clinics at marae, churches, work places and residential areas.

“We will make sure that where there is a need for transportation to the vaccination centres, there will be support there.

“We have invested $10.5 million directly into providing Pacific provider services to build their infrastructure to ensure they are communicating with our communities and to make sure we have got workforce capacity, so that they can meet the vaccination demand and just make sure there’s equitable access, safe access for Pacific peoples,” he said.

Aupito said the government are asking the DHBs and the local providers to adopt a whānau-centred approach to the vaccination roll out.

“This means that they will have the discretion to immunise family members of older people, disabled and people with relevant underlying health conditions, particularly as those are the people accompanying them to their appointments.

“New Zealand has purchased enough vaccines that nobody will go without it and it will be safe and keep everyone protected,” he said.

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