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Taikura Trust Wants More Disabled People Vaccinated

Taikura Trust, a leading disability support provider, is concerned people with disabilities are still not receiving adequate support to access the COVID-19 vaccine, despite the Government’s Super Saturday this weekend.

Findings led by Taikura Trust’s COVID-19 initiative Tiaki, in partnership with the Northern Regional Health Coordination Centre (NRHCC), show that many New Zealanders who rely on disability support services (DSS) are still being left behind in Aotearoa’s vaccine rollout.

More than 9000 DSS users in Auckland are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Of these, 47% of DSS users are fully vaccinated. Within this group 38% of disabled Māori and 40% Pacifica are fully vaccinated. In comparison, the latest Ministry of Health figures indicate that 63% of Aucklanders are fully vaccinated.

Age-based differences were also noted in the vaccination uptake. For example, vaccination rates are lowest amongst people aged 13 to 18 years regardless of their disability. The research shows that 61% and 67% of adults aged 35 to 54 years and 55 to 74 years respectively are fully vaccinated, while only 23% of people aged 13 to 18 been fully vaccinated.

The chair of the Trust’s operational entity and New Zealand’s oldest Thalidomide survivor Barry de Geest is in full support of the Government’s initiatives to get people vaccinated, but wants to make sure vulnerable groups don’t get left behind.

“This data helps us target who we really need to reach out to because it can be very hard for disabled people to access correct information, make a decision and then get the vaccine,” Barry said. “The pathway to COVID-19 vaccination for disabled people and their families should be really clear and well-supported every step of the way.”

In September Mr de Geest led the launch of Tiaki’s vaccination drive. On the day, he publicly received his second vaccine at Papakura marae to support the more than 13,000 disabled people and their families in Auckland. Barry lives with a disability and was vaccine hesitant at first, but he and his wife decided they would have a better chance of fighting COVID-19 if they were fully vaccinated against it. Tiaki has reached more than 67,000 people on social media and has spoken to almost 4000 disabled people and their families about COVID-19 support.

“There were some interesting themes from our korero with people. Some people really wanted to get the protection of the vaccine but had needle phobias,” Barry said. “Some needed in-home vaccination because behavioural challenges stopped them from leaving the home to get the vaccine. The whole family ends up not getting vaccinated because of these issues.

“We support them by providing credible and accessible information about COVID-19 vaccines. We organise transport assistance or in-home vaccination for those with specific requirements. We would not have been able to bridge these gaps if we were not committed to build capacity and stand-up resources to carry out our outreach programme for disabled people and their families.”

“We need to get to disabled people personally and to actually talk to them. This makes a difference and we’ve seen this through our outreach programme. Our relationships and experience as an iwi, Pacific and disability owned disability organisation in Auckland for the past 20 years means we are a trusted source for information and support for disabled people and their families.

“But our work to ensure disabled people are protected from COVID-19 is far from over. The pandemic keeps reminding us that all disability supports need to be reinforced and woven together if we really want disabled people and their families to thrive.”

How can Disability Support Service (DSS) users in Auckland get their vaccine

  • You can go directly to any drive-through or walk-in vaccination centre. No bookings are required.
  • You can call to book your vaccine. 0800 11 12 13 has been specifically created for people with disabilities. This number is manned by people with lived experienced.
  • You can book your vaccine on bookmyvaccine.covid19.health.nz.
  • If you are unable to particate at Super Saturday, call us anytime on 0800 527 5824 or email tiaki@taikura.org.nz and we can talk to you about other supported vaccination options that suit you.
  • For more information, visit our website at taikura.org.nz.

About Taikura Trust

Taikura Trust has high levels of trust and satisfaction among its clients and believes working directly with individuals, whānau by whānau, aiga by aiga, person by person, is the key to success. In 2020, their COVID-19 outreach campaign reached thousands of households across Auckland.

Taikura Trust also strongly supported vaccination uptake across the organisation, with 98% of people-facing employees fully vaccinated. With the majority of its employees turning to vaccination, they are able to protect themselves, their families and the people they support- many of which are medically fragile- from the risk of transmitting the virus.


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