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Rally call for Samoans in Auckland to get vaccinated

Samoans across Tāmaki Makaurau, Auckland are being encouraged to get vaccinated to increase the vaccination rate for Samoans, the largest population of Pacific peoples.

With Samoans being the largest ethnicity of the Covid-19 cases in the most recent outbreak of the Delta variant in South Auckland, local community leaders and Pacific health providers are encouraging Samoans to make the decision to get vaccinated.

In Tāmaki Makaurau, Auckland, there are approximately 120,000 people that identify as Samoans, which makes up the largest population of 244,000 Pacific people in the region.

“We are calling out to the Samoan community in Auckland, particularly South Auckland to make the decision to get vaccinated to protect the health and wellbeing of their aiga (family), loved ones, ekalesia (church) and community,” says Senior General Practitioner, Doctor Sirovai Fuata’i.

“As we have seen with each Covid-19 outbreak, Pacific and Māori people are highly vulnerable to the virus given our social way of life and many live with pre-existing health conditions. We must eliminate Covid from our communities by getting vaccinated.”

Doctor Siro Fuata’i of Bader Drive Doctors, Southseas Healthcare and Pasefika Family Health Group are part of a Pacific consortium who have scaled up their Covid-19 response to ensure the South Auckland community have access to Covid-19 testing, vaccinations, and holistic wellbeing support.

Māngere-Ōtāhuhu Local Board Chairperson Lemauga Lydia Sosene strongly supports the call to increase the uptake of the vaccination rate of Samoans, particularly with this week’s three-day event in the Māngere Town Centre.

“Māngere-Ōtahuhu local board area is home to the largest Samoan population in New Zealand. We want to ensure that when our children return to our local schools and community to their workplaces, that they do it safely and that means making the decision to get vaccinated,” she says.

Ōtara-Papatoetoe Local Board chairperson Apulu Reece Autagavaia says that there needs to be a stronger focus on engaging with Samoans to get vaccinated in his local board area from Government Officials.

“Over half of Otara’s population is Samoan. Otara also has the highest number and percentage of people who are unvaccinated with Papatoetoe and Manukau not far behind. Covid-19 has hit Samoan and Pacific people the hardest. Whether it’s been in the United States, Victoria, or New South Wales. Here in New Zealand, we don’t have to be another statistic. We can beat Delta by getting vaccinated,” he says.

Three South Auckland drive-through vaccination events over the next month are primarily focused on getting Samoans and local people vaccinated, starting with a three-day event in Mangere Town Centre 24-26 September, 9am to 6pm. This will be followed by a large-scale ‘Rally Your Village’ event in Manukau (1-4 October) and in Manurewa (11-13 October).

With Māngere, Papatoetoe, Manurewa, Manukau, Ōtara identified as areas of high concern and vulnerability by the Government. The three South Auckland drive-through events will be supported by pop-up vaccination sites and vaccination buses through to the end of the year.

“The three South Auckland drive-through events are aimed to engage Samoans and local people to get vaccinated. Each event is facilitated by Pacific health providers and staff with community leaders and family and church leaders engaged to mobilise Samoans to get vaccinated and tested for Covid-19,” says Dr Fuata’i.

“Pop-vaccination sites and the new vaccination buses will also be rolled out across Auckland including West, Central and East Auckland so that our Samoan community in these areas get both jabs to protect their aiga.”

Following the most recent outbreak of the Delta variant in South Auckland, a Facebook page, Samoa Tutū Fa’atasi, was launched on Monday 6 September. The page is primarily in Gagana Samoa (Samoa language) and is gaining a growing following with Samoans in Auckland, Samoa, and communities in Australia and USA.

Samoa Tutū Fa’atasi means “Samoa Stand Together” to encourage eligible Samoans to stand together and decide to get the Covid-19 vaccination. Community stories and testimonies have been shared from Samoans in Auckland including Rugby League legend Ruben Wiki and former Manu Samoa international Tino Junior Poluleuligaga and features a popular ‘Sa’o pe Sese’ (True or False) segment with South Auckland based GP, Doctor Emma Ropati (Chang-Wai).

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