The Cook Island community like so many of the Pacific Island groups have rallied together in response to concerns around the COVID-19 vaccination uptake amongst their families.
Their vaccination drive is taking place from Thursday 23 September to Saturday 25 September at the Atiu Hall in Favona. Organizers are aiming to vaccinate at least 1500 people in their community.
Among the Cook Islands population in Auckland, 54.0% have received their first dose whilst only 28.4% are fully vaccinated (as at end of Sunday 19 September).
Pasifika Medical Association (PMA) are supporting the Cook Islands vaccination event through Pasifika Futures (PFL) - the Whānau Ora commissioning agency for Pacific families.
PMA Board Chair, Dr Kiki Maoate (ONZM, FRACS), has helped lead the community drive for the Cook Islands community.
“The vaccination uptake within our Cook Islands community still remains at the lower end of what we are expecting.
Our vaccination drive is another level of investment in enabling our community to see that the vaccine is an important part of our lives now.”
He says community and ethnic specific leadership is crucial in the rollout of vaccination programmes.
“We move as a tribe and there’s a reliance on trusted leadership to provide direction for our communities.
The community respects and has confidence in their community leaders.
It’s crucial that the leadership is ethnic specific as much as possible as that will improve the trust and the confidence of our people to be involved.”
Clinical Director for the Mt Wellington Integrated Health Centre, Dr Minnie Strickland, says the approach to the Cook Islands community vaccination event has been to make direct contact with community leaders and their networks.
“We have community leaders from each island reaching out to their community members by ringing their dance groups, sport groups and family circles; encouraging them to get vaccinated at the drive this week.
Everyone knows they need to be vaccinated so our one-on-one approach is a more personal form of engaging the community.
This is another tool in our box to try and stop the spread of COVID but also about keeping our families and communities safe.”
The Cook Islands community vaccination drive is taking place at the Atiu Hall, 7 Atiu Place, Favona. It is running from Thursday 23 September - Saturday 25 September.