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Hauora Tairawhiti targeting areas as vaccination campaign ramps up

Hauora Tairawhiti is on a mission to get more of the community vaccinated against Covid-19.

The district health board's pandemic programme coordinator Lissette Hayes says they now know which suburbs have low vaccination rates and will be targeting those areas.

“We have hesitancy, misinformation that turns into disinformation, and importantly we have barriers within some of our groups in our community, transport, access and timings to attend”, she said.

Community workers will be going door-to-door in the low-vaccinated areas, educating residents and offering onsite vaccinations.

A bus has been donated by Te Puni Kokiri to use as a mobile clinic.

Hauora Tairawhiti and iwi providers Turanga Health and Ngati Porou Hauora introduced incentives such as free coffee, karaoke and voucher draws.

Marae vaccination clinics provided kai packs and hangi.

All of these are contributing to the efforts to lift vaccination rates in Tairawhiti.

As is spreading the word.

Local nurse Aimee Milne is one of Gisborne's most outspoken advocates for vaccination.

“I have a background in nursing,” said Ms Milne, a regular letter and column writer in The Herald.

“I worked for an iwi provider for years — probably gave hundreds of vaccination in my time — and I have seen the benefits of vaccinations.”

During the measles outbreak in Samoa, she became worried about all the anti-vax misinformation being shared on social media and felt she needed to speak up.

When Covid hit she did not want the same thing happening so she posted on Facebook and wrote letters to the papers to make sure people were “vaccination aware”.

She received letters of support, even fan mail from some, but also copped plenty of negative comments.

“I got a lot of vitriol and hate, probably because I was addressing racism, hate, inequity and the anti-vax misinformation. They are all intertwined.

“I was told to go hang myself, it was really abusive stuff,” she said.

Ms Milne hopes the attention — good and bad — will help get more people vaccinated.

The vaccination drive continues with more pop-up and drive-through clinics around Gisborne and the East Coast.

• See Hauora Tairawhiti's website (www.hauoratairawhiti.org.nz) for details.

Vax queue: Cars line up at the Turanga Health drive-through vaccination clinic at Harry Barker Reseve on Sunday. The clinic was meant to run for a few hours but vaccinations were still being administered well after the intended closing time. Screen shot picture by Renae Lolohea