Community work . . . Working together to make Oamaru's vaccine clinic a welcoming environment are (from left) Oamaru Pacific Island Community Group general manager Hana Halalele and team members Sili Taua, Silou Te Moana, Mele Finau Huakau, Lauao Havili, Pelenaise Fehui, and Apolosa Draunimasi. PHOTO: RUBY HEYWARD

The Oamaru Pacific Island Community Group’s (OPICG) Covid-19 vaccine clinics have helped bring the community together.

This week, the OPICG ran its second vaccine clinic, with support from Tu Mai Ora and Waitaki Migrant Support. At the first clinic, held last month, 1000 people were vaccinated and this week’s clinic was fully booked. About 980 people had returned for their second dose this week, while the others were getting their first.

OPICG general manager Hana Halalele said the demand highlighted the community was “eager” to be vaccinated. The OPICG wanted to make its clinics welcoming, offering music and nibbles.

“It was really lovely to hear some positive feedback about these, and also to share it with the team,” Mrs Halalele said.

“Some of these clinics are so normal to our way of life that we actually don’t notice that it is different. It’s just part of how we take care – take care of community, take care of our elders, families and individuals.”

The clinic’s team was made up of members of the Tuvaluan, Fijian and Tongan communities and representatives from St Paul’s Church and the Waitaki District Council. Many of the local helpers had expressed an interest in a career in health, law and administrative roles as a result of the clinics.

“I think offering these opportunities helps to strengthen our community spirit, empowers people to take ownership of how they want things to roll in our community and it celebrates Pacific ways of doing things,” she said.

The OPICG was approached by the Southern District Health Board (SDHB) to host an outreach clinic, as the Ministry of Health’s priority was making sure the Pasifika community was vaccinated. OPICG created a strong relationship with the SDHB and WellSouth during lockdown, Mrs Halalele said.

The clinics were in partnership with Otakou Health Limited, based in Dunedin. They also worked with Canterbury Spinners and Alliance Group’s Pukeuri plant to vaccinate staff.

The OPICG hoped to host another clinic in December for Pasifika people who had not been vaccinated.

The group had received funding from the Ministry of Health Pacific for more health work.

“We need to grow and support our Pacific health and community frontline staff so they are equipped, trained and ready to lead the change we need to see in our community.”