Awareness of other vaccines important for Pacific families wellbeing

Dr Monica Nua-George
Director, Etu Pasifika

Etu Pasifika clinical director, Dr Monica Nua-George, appeared on Radio New Zealand’s Nine to Noon program this morning to share about the importance of Pacific families receiving their Measles Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccination to ensure they remain healthy in this Covid-19 environment.  

Dr Nua-George says there is a concern that there is great emphasis on the pandemic vaccination schedule but at the expense of other vaccinations such as MMR and the Flu that many vulnerable families in the community are susceptible to.

“During Covid-19, the measles campaign and the information around measles stopped and people forgot about it.  Once Covid settled down and we got use to what it was, then the talk about measles came back onto the table,” Dr Nua-George told Lynn Freeman from RNZ.

“This messaging for MMR was brought back to us, the GPs, to be aware that we needed to start getting our community back into the clinics to be immunised.”

Dr Nua-George explained how Etu Pasifika, the largest health provider for Pacific families in the Canterbury region, made vaccinations more accessible to their families by having a drive-thru MMR vaccine service last weekend. The Etu Pasifika team also provided a sausage sizzle and goody bags for the families who utilised the drive-thru vaccine option.

“We wanted to make it a positive experience and not an experience labelled as something that you must have because you might get this bad thing,” says Dr Nua-George.

She is still haunted by the impact of the 2019 measles crisis in Samoa, where 83 people died, mainly young children and says that measles immunisation is critical to keep our Pacific families protected.  Her organisation has been speaking with church youth groups, schools, and universities to get the message out to the Pacific group who are under-30.

“We talk about the facts of vaccines, the facts about these diseases and the history of how they have come about. We try not to focus on the theories that other people have, and we ask the questions that they would have around these vaccines.”


Date: Thursday 01 April 2021