A free flu vaccination campaign targeting people aged over 65 from the Asian community in the Counties Manukau Health district has so far delivered 14 clinics and seen more than 350 people vaccinated at a number of community centres.
The clinics, which are supported by health professionals who can speak Mandarin, Cantonese, Punjabi, Hindi, Korean and other languages have been delivered at temples, activity centres, churches and community centres. The vaccine is available until July.
The Tzu Chi Foundation was among the organisations that hosted a flu clinic and partnered with the Auckland Chinese Medical Association to include a health talk and health check.
“It is part of our mission to respect life and look after everyone’s health, so we thought this was a good opportunity. People feel at home here, they trust us and we can support them. They had a lot of questions for the doctors, who spoke Mandarin, before they were vaccinated.” says volunteer Chen Mei-Yu
Shanti Niwas Charitable Trust General Manager Nilima Venkat, whose organisation provides services to the Indian community, says people who were initially hesitant about the flu vaccine were soon put at ease when health professionals explained the benefits and how it worked.
“They were thankful they didn’t have to go to the doctors to have the vaccine. This programme supports them to live an independent, happy and healthy life in New Zealand.”
The initiative was in response to research findings by two University of Auckland Bachelor of Health Sciences students, Aishah Azhaara and Daniel Cen who met with Asian communities during their placement with Counties Manukau Health in 2017.
“The study found elderly Asian would prefer to receive the flu vaccine at a location they felt connected to, and was convenient to them so we developed a culturally responsive service,” says CM Health Asian Health Gain Advisor, Kitty Ko.
Life Pharmacy Pakuranga pharmacist Vicky Chan says the initiative is worthwhile and a chance to connect with the local community.
“For us, it is a great opportunity to go out to where our elderly are and do our bit to increase the uptake among our 65+ population.”
The flu vaccine is available from family doctors and some local pharmacies.