February 14, 2022
Tamariki vax gap shows system failure
One of the country’s few Māori paediatricians says the growing gap in immunising tamariki Māori for Covid-19 shows a health system still in denial about inequity.
The Government has rejected suggestions it creates a special task force to target Māori in the vaccine roll-out, and the Health Ministry is refusing to hand over data that the Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency says could help its providers better target unvaccinated children.
Dr Owen Sinclair from Waitākere Hospital says government claims it learned what went wrong with the adult rollout and it would do better with children, but it’s worse, with the Māori rate running 50 per cent behind.
“It really is a sign about how the system doesn’t really know or doesn’t really care about inequities like this. It has been this way for so long and the people in charge don’t really know how to deal with it. they don’t often live in communities where poverty and deprivation and colonialism really affect people’s ability to achieve all services. They just don’t understand the barriers,” he says.
Dr Sinclair says people seem to be minimising the impact of Covid-19 on children, but it’s a big deal for the children who get it, and large numbers of unimmunised children will also be a way the virus keeps spreading through the community.