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Fourth vaccine wanted for all

A Wairarapa Pasifika leader says the fourth covid vaccination should be made available to all Maori and Pacific people, not just those over 40 years of age.
The Ministry of Health has increased its eligibility for the second booster to Maori and Pacific people aged 40-49. Previously, a fourth dose of the covid-19 vaccine was only available to people 65 and over, Maori and Pacific people aged 50 years and over, residents of aged care and disability care facilities severely immunocompromised people who received a three-dose primary course and a fourth dose as a first booster.
There are 8486 people in Wairarapa who have had a second booster, of which 533 are Maori [32 per cent] and 93 are pacific people [32 per cent].
Luther Toloa from Pasifika o Wairarapa Charitable Trust said all Pacific people should be eligible.
“The government has identified the Pacific population as a vulnerable group, so why have they only made it available to people over 40?
“It’s a good start. But in my view, they should’ve made it available to all at-risk groups.”
He said the data showed Pasifika’s health was at the bottom of the barrel.
“The data shows we’re at a higher risk of cancer, diabetes, and obesity, why do we have to wait for all age
groups to become eligible?
“If we don’t do anything, nothing will change and we’ll still be vulnerable. “
Toloa encouraged the community to get vaccinated but respected that it was a personal choice
For the rollout to be effective, he said the vaccine should be brought to the people.
“Everyone’s had a gutsful of the vaccine. The rollout has to be targeted, more personalised, rather than forcing it, rather than telling people to get it because they’re due. There needs to be more contact with families, and consider taking the service to the homes at times suitable to them. Rather than the person having to ring the 0800 number and making them take time off work.”
Wairarapa’s pacific population had one of the highest flu vaccination rates.
Despite the government only subsidising the flu jab for 55 and over, Wairarapa Pasifika Charitable Trust made the flu vaccination free for all Pasifika families.
“Pasifika families are large and multigenerational. It did not make sense to provide it to just one or two people and leave the rest of the household exposed.
“We had one of the highest rates, simply because the staff went to the homes, vaccinated all members of the family, and the trust paid for it.”
Te Whatu Ora Wairarapa interim district director Dale Oliff said they would be working with Tu Ora Compass and Whaiora Medical Centre to increase the accessibility of the vaccination.

Helen Holt
Helen Holt
Helen Holt is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age and enjoys reporting on a variety of topics, regularly covering Wairarapa events, tourism, local businesses, and the occasional health story.

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