Cartoon image of a man showing his arm where he received a vaccination

This paper describes issues, strengths and challenges experienced by elderly Māori accessing influenza vaccination, during the first Level 4 COVID-19 lockdown in 2020. We also obtained views about the introduction of COVID-19 vaccines, and the social restrictions of lockdown. A sampling frame of four Māori elders speaking on behalf of themselves and their communities in Northland was recruited from health sector network connections and interviews were undertaken and recorded. The rich narratives highlighted an awareness of the generational impact of illness and vaccination and concern about the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable populations.

Despite initial fear about COVID-19, communities described ‘safety and comfort’ from ‘lockdown’ creating community resilience and marae, hapu and iwi making major contributions to local crisis response. The well-developed views of these Māori kaumātua about influenza, vaccination and COVID-19 occurred within an environment of contrasting health beliefs and trust/distrust about government and Pākehā-led health services. There was support for the style and content of local health services and recognition and that Pākehā-led health services can be effective when complemented by traditional Māori health values approaches and beliefs. We also noted that the lockdown provided opportunities for these elders to adapt to new technology within a health context.

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Dowell A, Turner N, Watson D, Wharemate R, Willing E and Nowlan M


Kōtuitui: New Zealand Journal of Social Sciences Online

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Journal article

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