Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Children’s vaccine rollout out could do with boost in schools

Start of school year affecting child vaccination response
Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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Anauli Karima Fai'ai | Reporter/Director

As everyone sprints to get their booster shot, the spotlight has also been cast on children receiving their first vaccination.

The rollout for kids aged 5-11 began last month with more than 500 sites nationwide delivering the Pfizer vaccine.

Irata Passi has been actively involved in her role as a nurse and Covid Response Manager at South Seas Healthcare in Otara.

“It’s normal for the kids to be scared of needles but when you connect to the parents, the kids slowly come and have a connection with the nurse,” she says.

At the Whanau Ora-run vaccination centre in Takanini, clinical lead Eleanore Reeve says the response from Pacific communities was initially positive.

“It was extremely busy to start off with, we were getting about 150-200 children a day coming through for the vaccines,” she says

Children receive a smaller dose and vaccination centres have put measures in place to make the process less daunting.

“We include things such as finding things on a piece of paper to distract them, using devices if that’s what they’re used to and just talking to the child as well and using appropriate language for their age as well.”

At South Seas Healthcare, the team have been organising events encouraging parents to get their children vaccinated.

“Every Saturday we have a special big event, something to bring your families and your kids – it’s like an outing for the kids and the parents but at the same time get their injections,” Irata says.

But with kids now back at school, numbers have decreased. 

“We’re in the process of talking with schools at the moment, the Ministry of Education, to deliver the vaccine into schools but also working with the families to gather that consent,” Eleanore says.

And with just over 30% of Pasifika children partially vaccinated so far, omicron remains a big threat to vulnerable communities.

Irata is urging parents not to delay.

“It’s very important for the vulnerable kids and disabled kids to have their vaccine. It will protect them from the rest of the family because they are the ones that will easily get the virus so having their covid vaccination helps their immune system so that they can be protected from getting covid,” she says.

“We’re just friendly nurses here and the doctors as well, we can help with any questions that they have.”



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