Prioritising the vaccination of the wider South Auckland community is a no-brainer because it protects the whole of Aotearoa against Covid-19, Pasifika Medical Association’s chief executive Debbie Sorensen says.
Sorensen said the “border is in the heart of South Auckland” and with many in the community servicing the airport and quarantine facilities, it was the most at risk for an outbreak.
Having “seen the last three outbreaks based in South Auckland”, Sorensen said there was no question that South Auckland should be vaccinated as a priority.
Sorensen said ministers had told her that Cabinet was considering prioritising South Auckland in the vaccine rollout.
Under the current rollout plan, border workers and their families are receiving the jab first, followed by frontline health workers.
The Government has previously said that a significant proportion of the South Auckland community would be included as vaccine priorities because they are in these groups, but Sorensen disagreed.
“It would be very unwise to assume that vaccination of border workers and families will reach everyone that they would want to reach,” she said.
The sequencing of vaccine rollout was “complex” and “fraught with politics”, Sorensen said.
“What is clear, is because all of the outbreaks are coming out of the south, if we get on top of that then we keep the rest of the country safe.”
“This isn’t just about making sure South Aucklanders are first, it’s about protecting the whole of New Zealand.”
“If we can get South Auckland right, get that vaccinated and get the population safe, then that keeps the rest of the country safe.”
The ministers who met Sorensen and other South Auckland officials were supportive of the wider South Auckland community going up the list of priorities for the vaccine.
“The ministers we met with last week were very supportive of the notion that South Auckland now needs to be pushed up the priority and we understand that this is under consideration by Cabinet at present.”
Protecting the South Auckland community from the vitriol many of them had faced after recent outbreaks would be an additional benefit.
“We need to do everything we can and take all measures to protect the community both by having them vaccinated but also to protect them from the downstream effects of bullying, of overt racism.”