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Efeso Collins: Do more to attract people to Auckland vaccination event

Auckland councillor Efeso Collins is blaming "pretty poor" communication to Māori and Pacific communities for the low uptake of people signing up to be vaccinated against Covid-19 at a mass event in Auckland.

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The Auckland councillor blames communication for the low uptake of people signing up to be vaccinated against the virus at a mass event. Source: 1 NEWS

It comes after RNZ this morning reported less than a quarter of those sent initial invitations to the event had booked a slot, with health officials now scrambling to find 12,000 more people so it can go ahead on Friday.

The event, which would run to August 1 at the Vodafone Event Centre in Manukau, was set up for MIT students, staff and their families to get the jab.

However, Collins this morning told 1 NEWS more needed to be done to encourage those in the community to attend.

"Our people take a very cautious approach to these events in the first place, especially because it's the vaccination," he said.

"There's definite increase in the people wanting to take it up but I think this is an issue of comms and right from the beginning I think the Covid-19 comms has been pretty poor when it's come to Māori and Pacific communities. We haven't had the right people delivering those messages."

Vodafone Events Centre Source: 1 NEWS

Collins said at the beginning of the pandemic he urged the Ministry of Health to work with state services like Kāinga Ora to offer a broader range of support for people, not just the vaccine.

"They haven't taken that approach and I think this is why we haven't seen so many sign up," he said.

Collins also said officials needed to get community leaders, like church leaders, aware and talking about it to increase uptake.

And while he agreed getting students and their families in at this event was the right approach, he added "I don't think they've done the ground work well enough".

"If we've got Whānau Ora navigators, community social workers involved in the process they're going to be able to inform the people running the event of the best way to approach it.

"We need it in the languages, we need people visiting homes to make sure that the whole family comes, not just one person in a family, the whole whānau."

People eligible for the mass vaccination event have been sent a text message with information, which Collins said was a good reminder but that those in the community needed more than just a text.

"They've got to the see need and they've got to see a reason to go. I agree with (South Auckland general practitioner Dr Api) Talemaitoga when he says that you need entertainment, you need a draw, it can't just be the vaccine, that's not enough of a draw."

Talemaitoga told RNZ: "I think the organisers should have thought about making it a celebration or an event that is like a festival where people come along with their friends, can listen to a bit of music, or watch a bit of entertainment or dancing. Have a bit of food and then get vaccinated".

Auckland councillor Efeso Collins. Source: 1 NEWS