Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

‘We go to where our community is’ – Pasifika health provider on the frontline

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air
South Waikato Pacific Islands Community Services led their community vaccination drive, rallying everyone to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Photo: South Waikato Pacific Islands Community Services.
Avatar photo
Aden Miles Morunga | Local Democracy Reporter

“Our approach since the inception of vaccinations has been led by the vision of going to where our community is,” says Akarere Henry, chief executive of South Waikato Pacific Islands Community Services.

That means adapting and evolving to meet the needs of its community, especially the most vulnerable.

Waikato topped 100,000 Covid-19 cases last week, amid more calls for everyone to get vaccinated and boosted.

With winter flu cases also rising, the Tokoroa-based Pasifika health service provider is carrying out home visits to lift Covid-19 vaccinations and immunisation rates.

Akarere Henry says it’s vital that her team listens to the community.

“This involved going to workplaces, schools, churches and of late, sporting venues. We have also always provided a drive-through clinic every Saturday and pop-up clinics at community events which have seen us every Thursday, popping up somewhere in the community depending on the event.”

The vibrancy of their service reflected the colourful Pasifika cultures of the South Waikato. They retain the same energy today, continuing to vaccinate and immunise their communities. Photo: South Waikato Pacific Islands Community Services.

As a means of being accessible to the community, Akarere says their servicing hours are flexible, including from 3pm-6pm to cater for those with school age families and workers.

“We offer all types of vaccinations together with flu vaccines and MMR. We are also beginning to do home visit vaccinations to best meet individual circumstances.

“We currently have what I call a call centre approach where data we have been given from DHB identifies those who are eligible so we can offer that service if it best meets their needs.

“We also ‘know’ our community so we can reach out to them as well.”

Akarere added there is a process for individuals with disabilities and elderly, but her team is also focusing on members of the community who require mental wellness.

As borders re-open and other serious winter illnesses such as flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) arrive and begin to spread, Waikato District Health Board is expecting more pressure on primary and secondary healthcare services.

Partnering with South Waikato District Council and Raukawa iwi, they met the needs of their community. Photo: South Waikato Pacific Islands Community Services.

Waikato saw good rates of vaccination for the initial two COVID-19 vaccinations for those aged 12 and over, with 93% having had two doses; however the rate for booster doses remains at 68% for this group. This means more than 207,000 people have had a booster shot, but there are still another 94,000 due to get theirs.

Officials are also concerned about the 5-11 year age group. For Māori aged 5-11 the rate is low at 31.7% receiving their first dose and 9.1% receiving their second.

Waikato DHB is encouraging parents to check with their GP or pharmacy to make sure their children are up to date on immunisations, and to get their vaccinations as soon as they are due.

Waikato DHB Executive Director Hospital and Community Services, Christine Lowry, says the hospital is currently busy with a range of illnesses and experiencing a high level of acute demand, but it is not a result of Covid-19 or flu cases.

“Over recent weeks the numbers of COVID-19 cases in Waikato Hospitals has plateaued, with figures being in or around the mid-twenties to thirty patients being treated in hospital.

“The first case of the flu in the Waikato was recorded on 19 May. As of 29 May there were eight cases being treated in Waikato Hospital.”



Stay Connected

Subscribe to our mailing list to receive daily updates direct to your inbox!

*we hate spam as much as you do