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Record flu vaccination rates for Hawke's Bay Maori

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

More local Māori aged 65 and over have received an influenza vaccine this year than ever before.

Hawke’s Bay has also achieved the second highest vaccination rate for this group in the country.

Hawke’s Bay District Health Board Immunisation Co-ordinator Fiona Jackson said we have vaccinated 69 percent of the Hawke’s Bay’s population as well as 69 percent of our Māori 65 and over population - our highest rates ever.

"This is an amazing achievement and it looks like we’re on track to meet the national target of vaccinating 75 percent of our Māori 65 and over population."

Like all DHBs around the country, HBDHB was tasked with the challenge of increasing influenza vaccination rates this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A working group was pulled together, which involved the Immunisation Team, Māori and Pacific Health teams, Iwi providers, pharmacy and the region’s Primary Health Organisation, Health Hawke’s Bay.

When the country was going into lockdown, they were logging into Zoom meetings to determine how to reach those most vulnerable to influenza.

Ngaira Harker Nurse Director of Māori Health said the new way of working took a bit of adjusting to, but soon the group became a well-oiled machine.

"We played to everyone’s strengths and utilised our community contacts to encourage people to visit their GP or pharmacy to get their flu vaccine.

"We also organised pop-up clinics with Māori health providers and churches with a large Pacific congregation to make it more accessible to the vulnerable and elderly in our community."

And it worked. Week by week the vaccination rates kept climbing.

Ms Jackson said COVID-19 has really made people aware of just how important vaccination is.

"Eighty percent of people infected with influenza show no signs or symptoms and unknowingly expose others which is why vaccination is the best protection for your friends and whanau."

People wanting a flu vaccine should ring their GP, local pharmacy, or Māori health provider.

Certain people are eligible for a free flu vaccine, including pregnant women, people aged 65 years or older, or people under 65 with diabetes, most heart or lung conditions and some other illnesses. Children aged 4 years or under who have visited their doctor many times or had a stay in hospital for asthma or other breathing problems are also eligible for a free vaccine.

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