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Asia Pacific Report newsdesk

A Pasifika local government politician in New Zealand, the first from Kiribati to be elected to political office, has appealed to “Pasifika friends and family” to get vaccinated now as part of the national covid rollout.

Victoria Short, deputy chair of Auckland’s Hibiscus and Bays Local Board, says not to wait.

“If you are waiting for your personalised invitation to get vaccinated, you might be waiting forever, as it may never come,” she said in a statement.

“The time to get vaccinated is right now.”

Short, a 30-year-old mother of two, said she had seen first-hand how the delta variant had affected island families after it swept through the Pasifika community in Warkworth, north of Auckland.

“The current delta outbreak is disproportionally affecting our Pasifika community, who are vaccinating at a much slower rate than most other ethnicity groups,” Short said.

“Complex family and social structures, such as our Pasifika people making up a significant portion of our essential workforce, on average having larger households which are often multi-generational, and us being such a social vibrant people are all ingredients which allows covid to thrive and spread.”

Fully vaccinated
Short herself is now fully vaccinated and is an active Pasifika community representative in the covid-19 response planning led by the Ministry of Pacific People and the Ministry of Health.

“Wonderful work has been achieved by MPP [Ministry of Pacific People] in delivering culturally appropriate messaging to our community on the need for coming forward for a vaccination.

“Also, I have received fantastic feedback from numerous families in Pasifika community regarding the vaccination clinics, with someone even telling me, it was like going back to the islands for half-hour.”

However, the problem was that even with the significant resources and planning that had gone into the vaccine rollout programme, Pacific People were still one of the lowest vaccinated ethnic groups in New Zealand.

“If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, don’t wait a day longer. There are drive-through vaccination centres, clinics and pharmacies throughout the country ready and waiting to stick the needle in your arm.

“Current drive-through vaccination centres in Auckland also don’t require a booking and have more than enough supplies to accommodate everyone.

Collective action
“We are a smart, kind, generous, hard-working people, and now is the time to demonstrate this to the rest of New Zealand through our collective action,” Short said.

“When you take yourself to get vaccinated, make sure you load up the car with everyone else in your bubble over 12 years old, whether they are documented or not.

“The best thing we can do for ourselves, our community and New Zealand right now is to get vaccinated.”

“It’s up to us to take action for our health and the health of the loved ones around us.”

More than 65 percent of eligible people in New Zealand have now been vaccinated in the national rollout — half of those so far with double shots.

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