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Initiative Helping Offer New Opportunities For Māori And Pasifika Healthcare Workers

Over the past year, Aotearoa has been through a vaccination drive like never before. Retired staff came back to the workforce, teams of doctors, nurses and other health professionals have worked long hours in clinics and in drive-through vaccination centres to help ensure kiwis are protected from COVID-19.

Last year, the Ministry of Health announced planning for an extra 1,600 full-time equivalent vaccinators to scale up beyond the regular workforce of general practitioners, nurses, and pharmacists. This effort would source vaccinators from a range of clinical roles, plus a system to allow people who have worked in other healthcare settings to become COVID-19 vaccinators working under supervision (or CVWUS).

Faced with this unprecedented demand, Tokoroa has now embraced CVWUS.

The COVID-19 Immunisation Programme (CVIP) in Tokoroa is a great example of collaboration, with Waikato DHB working in close partnership with Raukawa Charitable Trust and South Waikato Pacific Island Community Services (SWPICS).

“We have a mix of staff working together from all three partners. The candidates nominated to train to become CVWUS, many who have been involved in the CVIP in various capacities for some time, were jointly selected based on their maturity, career pathways, and a sincerity in serving their communities through this opportunity” says SWPICS CEO Akarere Henry.

The new CVWUS roles were established late last year to support the country’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout programme. The new class of COVID-19 Vaccinators work in a vaccinating team and operate with a limited scope with support from a Clinical Vaccination Supervisor (CSV).

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The training programme has been put together by the Immunisation Advisory Centre (IMAC) to increase the vaccinating workforce and provide a more diverse group of vaccinators that the public can identify with friendly local faces. It involves an online course, a face-to-face workshop run by the Immunisation Advisory Centre (IMAC), CPR/Basic life support training, a workbook, and a period of observing all aspects of the vaccination process.

Once all the requirements are met, candidates perform a minimum of five directly supervised vaccinations. If both the assessor and the candidate feel they are competent and safe they can then apply to the Ministry of Health for authorisation as a CVWUS.

Once authorised to work under the supervision they can administer the Pfizer vaccine to persons 18yrs+ who fit screening criteria.

According to Sarah McFadyen, Tokoroa-based CVWUS Supervisor and Assessor the consent and screening of patients remains the responsibility of the authorised vaccinator, but the addition of CVWUS staff can significantly increase capacity, particularly during periods of peak demand.

McFadyen says “it was great to have been involved with this first cohort of hard working and dedicated staff in Tokoroa. I’m excited for the opportunity this additional training provides for them and look forward to seeing what they do next.”


A word from each of the CVWUS

Vana Cortez (DHB employed, Iwi- Raukawa)

“The reason why I chose to become a vaccinator is because I wanted to learn all areas of the CVIP to help where I can. Becoming a vaccinator was an opportunity given to me by our clinical/site manager. I am eventually wanting to train as a midwife and becoming a CVWUS will develop clinical skills and experience in the health sector.”

Maine Te Aroa Natua

“I am a Health Promoter working as the Pacific Community Educator for South Waikato Pacific Islands Community Services. My role enables me to support our young Pacific people to succeed in school and life after school.

I wanted to become a Vaccinator under supervision because My people – Pacific People are part of the most vulnerable grouping falling ill to COVID-19. I want to help them and our community to be protected as well as we could. I also saw people with so much anxiety when coming through to get their vaccinations, that I felt compelled to want to help.”

Faye Iva Henry

“For me it is a natural progression as I have a passion for health and wellbeing. I was in a bridging course last year with an intention to take up Nursing. However, my personal situation has changed, but I can still develop further skills to prepare myself when I am able to take up further formal training in my pathway of becoming a Registered Nurse.”

Elizabeth Okiakama

“I have a young family of handsome young males and whatever I can grow for myself will have a direct influence and impact on their own health journey.”

Meriol Tearetoa

“I am currently in study to become a Registered Nurse. This particular focus area is topical, and we have been a strong part of its implementation in this community. It has allowed me to apply the theory of my study with a practical application which will have huge benefits for our pacific community. It’s why I took up nursing. I want to be able to serve with quality and utilise my pacific approach to enabling wellbeing.”

Jessica Kirikava

“I jumped on this opportunity to become a vaccinator, as it is a large part of the work in our organisation. I want to be more active and involved within our vaccination team and would enjoy being a vaccinator as it would give me a sense of achievement, knowing I have provided a great service for my community. Working in the Health field and becoming a Diabetes specialist Nurse is a goal for myself, and this is another learning opportunity to help me achieve that goal.”

Back row (left to right): Meriol (Mel) Tearetoa (CVWUS), Jessica Kirikava (CVWUS), Maine Natua(CVWUS), Vana Cortez (CVWUS), Sarah McFadyen (Independently Authorised Vaccinator- CVWUS Supervisor and Assessor). Front row (left to right): Hazel Taitoe(CVWUS), Tere Ford (CVWUS), Janet Collins (IMAC Educator), Karen McKellar (IMAC Educator), Mireka Aloiai (Supervising Vaccinator), Faye Henry (CVWUS).

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