Free flu vaccinations a hit with Pacific families in Canterbury

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Free flu vaccinations a hit with Pacific families in Canterbury

Media release from the Pasifika Medical Association Group
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Stormy weather and pouring rain did not stop the dedicated Etu Pasifika team from providing free flu vaccinations in a drive-thru clinic for Pasifika families living in the Canterbury area.

From the comfort of their cars, families received their vaccinations in an initiative to provide the Pacific community in Canterbury protection from viruses like the flu and COVID-19.

“In Christchurch, we know that our community can be vulnerable during the winter season and if we are not proactive things could get worst,” says Etu Pasifika general manager, Amanaki Misa.

“We got through COVID-19 because we adhered to the restrictions by the government. It was an opportunity for us to be on top of our game and not relax the rules. It forces us to look at other ways where we can help our families and work extra hard for our people.”

The flu vaccination drive on June 27 was staffed by a team of 20 from Etu Pasifika, the largest Pacific health provider in Canterbury and funded by the Pasifika Medical Association. Staff members manned four outside workstations in the rain to make the day a success and local businesses supported by providing items, like fruit and toothpaste, for goodie bags.

Amanaki says a Saturday was chosen for the free vaccination to cater to the needs of the community and to ensure there were no financial or time barriers for families to protect themselves during the winter season.

“It was a response to the low uptake of flu vaccinations by the Pacific community. Many of our community work shift hours and can’t make it into the clinic to get the flu jab.”

More than 100 people were vaccinated. The day was such a success that Etu Pasifika are now looking at attending Pacific churches and administering flu vaccinations after the service.

“The traditional method is that our families come to us. But we want to experiment, think outside of the box and try something different.”
Cook Island nursing manager, Matty Teata, says the positive outcome boosted staff morale within the Etu Pasifika team.

“There was no doubt that everyone was on board. We were all excited about the initiative. We could provide a service to our families where money was not an issue. We had a purpose and felt that we are doing everything that we can for our community.”

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