Why Māori are lagging behind in vaccinations
By John Tamihere
The fact that Māori have the lowest vaccination rates in Aotearoa is nothing new to Māori or those who work in poor communities.
For two years the Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency has pleaded with health officials to access key Māori data, which could be utilised to support a complete Māori Vaccination roll out strategy.
The Whānau Ora network already provides the e-prescription contract for the whole of Aotearoa through our IT Company Whānau Tahi.
Secondly, we have deployed software in more than 7 District Health Boards that connects emergency services to primary services so all health providers can look up specific patient’s details by their name.
Thirdly we have access to primary healthcare software that allows us to look up any NHI (National Health Index) number by name. In other words total access.
We have met all the probity and protocol issues in regards to the use of this private information. Any allegation that the Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency will breach privilege as a consequence of access to the information, is a nonsense given our access to NHI numbers anyway.
In addition a number of third party agencies – non-Māori – have access to Māori data – eg Homecare Medical Limited.
We asked two years ago for this information. We asked again 12 months ago knowing that we would run into major problems because we wanted to invite our people to vaccinations, not go into a lottery called appointments.
You have to engineer and craft public population roll out systems specific to each cohort of the population. This means Māori had to be targeted with a different approach because of their vulnerability and their inability to access a system designed not for them and of course not by them.
Our problem is that in a short amount of time we are going to have to lift Māori Vaccination rates significantly.
It now becomes critical for Māori providers to deploy their resources so that Māori vaccination rates are increased in every suburb where Māori are lagging.
This means our mobile vaccination vehicles must know where to target populations, streets and suburbs up and down Aotearoa.
At the moment the District Health Boards (DHBs) and Ministry of Health (MoH) know they are sending us out on non-targeted fishing expeditions.
Their continued blocking of us to this data has been raised with Ministers and those Ministers have been lied to. We will provide the written documentation for that in due course.
At this moment in time we have beefed up our workforce by redeploying back office staff, including volunteers and others to be accredited as lay covid vaccinators.
Whānau Waipareira has 25 lay vaccinators, and between them they have vaccinated over 30,000 fellow Kiwis.
Our Māori workforce capacity that is already battle hardened in delivering mobile services, numbers upwards of 1,100 kaimahi across the whole of Tāmaki Makaurau, and we want to target this workforce in the most worthy way possible.
Our Māori deployment plan, known to the MoH and DHBs, is as follows:
The key to ensuring all the above energy works well is access to the contact information held by the Ministry of Health in terms of the National Health Index contact information. It is here where we deploy hundreds and thousands of text messages to the suburbs that we will blitz with our mobile units.
The MoH and the DHBs know that our vaccination attempt cannot be fully or successfully deployed unless we have access to invite our people to attend.
If our people are given a fair chance, we will lift our vaccination rates.
We are walking into a perfect storm not of our making.
As the majority of non-Māori population vaccinations rise, so rightly does their support for any lockdowns. Our people are not vaccinated because the people who run the present system are not of us or by us. They designed a system for middle class non-Māori New Zealanders, who have done very well.
By way of further evidence please look at the side chart showing that even without a pandemic, how badly run our health system is in regards to immunisations for Māori versus others.
In other words they failed us before the pandemic. Now give Māori a shot.
John Tamihere is a former Labour MP and CEO of the Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency and West Auckland Māori authority Whānau Waipareira.
Graphic (see link below):
In Summary the data shows fully immunised rates are as follows:
6 months – NZ European @ 80% / Māori @ 55%
8 months – NZ European @ 90% / Māori @ 75%
12 months – NZ European @ 92% / Māori @ 82%
18 months – NZ European @ 74% / Māori @ 49%
24 months – NZ European @ 89% / Māori @ 73%
54 months – NZ European @ 77% / Māori @ 57%
5 year – NZ European @ 87% / Māori @ 77%
the gap is across all age groups and this trend is the same for previous years.
Whilst not the Covid-19 Vaccine, this shows that Māori have been unvaccinated on other “proxy programmes” historically, highlighting that the Ministry of Health already knew that the Covid-19 Vaccination roll-out would be a challenge for Māori (and yet the planning wasn’t there by the MOH). This also highlights that GP’s “ringing their enrolled patients won’t work as it hasn’t worked regarding Childhood Immunisations