Tagata Pasifika The Pacific voice on New Zealand television since 1987

Vaccinations to be more accessible to Pacific communities with ‘Busifika Vax’

The first of two community-led buses were launched in Māngere, aptly named Busifika Vax
Busifika Vax will commence travel into South Auckland communities from Alert Level 2  Photo: Justin Moore
Alice Lolohea | Reporter/Director/Videographer

Alert Level 2 in Tāmaki Makaurau will see two buses from the vaccine fleet delivering Covid vaccinations to South Auckland residents.

The buses, christened ‘Busifika Vax’, were revealed at the Samoan vaccination drive-through event last Friday at Māngere Town Centre.

Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito Su’a William Sio says the fleet provides every opportunity for Pasifika people to get vaccinated.

“This is all about trying to make sure we leave no stone unturned, to ensure that everyone in Auckland has access to the vaccine,” says Sio.

“In the island of Samoa, the new government is continuing its door-to-door approach, and they are going from village to village. That’s what these buses will enable us to do.”

The bus is a part of a fleet of 12 vaccine buses secured by the Northern Regional Health Coordination Centre (NRHCC). Pacific Lead for NRHCC Meg Poutasi says the buses are “mission critical”.

“The buses allow us to be fast and mobile and to get our Pacific partners into the community where they can do their best work.”

Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito Su'a William Sio is taken for a short tour on board Busifika Vax
Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito Su’a William Sio is taken for a short tour on board Busifika Vax  Photo: Justin Moore

Poutasi adds the buses will help healthcare clinicians get to where the communities are faster.

“[It will] help us really move to what the community have called for, which is 100% vaccination by the end of December, and that’s both first and second doses.

“To be able to deliver that for our communities is really important, and the mobility and the flexibility of the movement of the buses into the community is what’s required.”

The Pacific population in New Zealand still holds the lowest vaccination rates in the country. Dr Sirovai Fuatai of Bader Drive Doctors says there’s a wide variety of reasons why Pacific communities aren’t yet vaccinated, but believes the buses will help health clinicians engage more with the community.

“In most Pacific circles they do take a bit of time to digest things, and they do need some encouragement to come forward and get it done,” says Dr Fuatai.

“I think there’s a lot of groups that feel they’d like to be engaged together and in their own environment and with people they feel comfortable with. S0 this is a really good way to undertake that, is to use the buses as a means of reaching out into the community.”

“I think once the trickle starts it will turn into a small torrent, and I’m sure it will turn into a huge river.”

The buses are in operation and are currently stationed in these spots, but will travel to different hotspots in Alert Level 2.

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