New report a timely reminder for Pacific families to be vaccinated against Covid-19

The release of a recent report that found that Pacific people are at greater risk of needing hospitalisation due to Covid-19 in New Zealand – and at much younger ages than the rest of the population, is a timely reminder for the Pacific community to be vigilant and be proactive in getting their Covid-19 vaccinations, says a leading Pacific doctor.

Released last week, the report in the New Zealand Medical Journal was co-authored by nine researchers and used data from 1829 Covid-19 cases. The data showed that Pacific people are three times more likely to need hospitalisation when infected with the virus than non-Pacific and non-Maori people.

Pasifika Medical Association (PMA) member and public health physician, Dr Corina Grey (FNZCPHM), has been leading or supporting medical and government teams in New Zealand’s Covid-19 response. She says the results of the new report is a timely reminder that our Pacific communities are the most vulnerable and we need to do all we can to protect our families.

“We need to do our bit to make sure that Covid-19 doesn’t spread throughout our community, especially when we want to protect our elders and our family members who suffer from chronic illnesses.

The best way to protect each other is to get vaccinated against Covid-19 and continue to adhere to the advice from the Ministry of Health that we all know very well, because we’ve been living with this pandemic for more then 18 months. To always wash our hands, to scan our QR codes whenever we go out in public and to stay home if we are sick.”

As of July 6, more than 1.2 million doses have been administered, and half a million people are fully vaccinated.

Dr Grey has applauded the work of Pacific church ministers, community and government leaders for spreading the message of getting vaccinated.

“It’s one thing for health professionals to say it, but if it’s coming from people that our Pacific community trusts and listen to, then that’s more important. We have had church ministers go out and get vaccinated and post on social media about their positive experience. So, we need more of that.”

Choirmaster Seumanu Simon Matāfai was hospitalised last year when he contracted Covid-19 from a close contact. He had a near death experience but made a full recovery and shared his story as a lesson of hope and resilience for others.

“My body was aching, I lost my appetite, I had severe headaches and nausea, I thought it was the end for me.

I started looking at the world in terms of Covid-19 and the devastation of the pandemic. It was very real for me. The world was suffering and so was I.”

Seumanu was closely managed and monitored during this time and he slowly recovered in hospital. He continues to be a Samoan translator at the border to ensure those coming into New Zealand are aware of our Covid-19 protocols and procedures designed to keep them and all of us safe.


Date: Tuesday 13 July 2021