The Pasifika Medical Association (PMA) welcomes the decision by Government to outline a pathway for Aotearoa to move towards a COVID-19 Protection Framework. We note the intention to shift to the new framework when DHBs reach 90% full vaccination. This will be important to allow Pacific communities to plan with some certainty.
We acknowledge the plan to introduce vaccination certificates for those who are fully vaccinated. This will enable them to enjoy more freedoms and benefits. It will encourage those who remain unvaccinated to consider vaccination.
We are, however, very disappointed that the 90% target will not be met by Pasifika communities and may leave many in our communities at risk.
The current full vaccination rate for Pacific people in Auckland is 61%. There are 39,010 Pacific people that are still unvaccinated and Pacific families will continue to be severely affected by COVID-19 says Dr Kiki Maoate Chair of the PMA.
We are aware that Pacific people are most severely impacted by COVID-19 says Mrs Debbie Sorensen CEO of the Pacific Whānau Ora Agency Pasifika Futures. Most of the new cases of COVID-19 in the current outbreak have been reported in Pacific and Māori people while vaccination rates in these communities are the lowest in the country.
Mrs Sorensen commends the Government for a strong focus on equity and ensuring that no one is left behind. Protecting the most vulnerable members of our community is a noble goal says Mrs Sorensen, but this approach does not honour that commitment.
We encourage continued focus on supporting increased vaccination among Pacific people. We note that there was no additional financial support provided for Pacific providers and communities. It is important to focus on lifting vaccination rates as soon as possible among Pacific people and to aim for the highest vaccination rates possible. Community-led vaccination drives and mobile services delivered by Pacific providers have demonstrated we are able to reach our communities and will increase our vaccination rates.
We are happy to continue to support the implementation of the new COVID-19 Protection Framework (Traffic Light System) as we have done over the last eighteen months, says Mrs Sorensen. We have an extensive network of partners throughout the country that works closely with their local Pasifika communities and are trusted by Pacific families.
We are disappointed at the failure to further promote public health measures such as masks, social distancing and restrictions on the movement of people. These measures have served us well and they should be maintained alongside improved vaccination rates. Achieving high vaccination targets protects individuals, their families and our entire nation. We welcome the opportunity to work with our partners and members to continue to support our communities says Dr Maoate.