Cardinal Dew leads the way: Get vaccinated

Cardinal John Dew was among a dozen senior Catholics from around the Wellington region who had their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on Wednesday.

New Zealand’s Catholic Church leaders are campaigning for people to line up for the Covid-19 vaccine programme.

The leaders are particularly focusing on ethnic and religious communities fearful of getting vaccinated because of misinformation.

Catholic Leadership Institute chief executive Dr Areti Metuamate says Catholic Church leaders are extremely concerned about the misleading information being spread by some high-profile people.

Misinformation is especially problematic on social media, Metuamate says. He describes some of it as ‘borderline nuts’.

“There’s someone who’s been suggesting that if you roll your sleeves up [for a vaccine], you’re rolling your sleeves up for Satan.

“There are also others saying conspiracies around Bill Gates and [how he is] trying to get everybody microchipped.”

Other misinformation is leading people to believe the vaccine may change their DNA or even give them Covid-19.

“It is biologically impossible for the vaccine to affect a person’s DNA and the vaccine does not contain any live virus. It’s important to directly address this sort of misinformation in a targeted way, he says.

The gathering where religious leaders were vaccinated focused specifically on Pasifika, a community where vaccine support was steadily rising – but still lower than other demographics.

“As the vaccine is now being offered to more members of the public, including those in at risk Māori and Pasifika communities, we want to urge people to get vaccinated to protect themselves, their whānau and their community.”

Ministry of Health statistics show the number of Pasifika who were unsure about the vaccine had fallen from 32 percent to only 9 percent.

There are nearly 400,000 Pasifika people in New Zealand, with most living in Auckland, Waikato and Wellington.

“There’s a Māori term: ‘He ora te whakapiri’, which means we are healthier if we come together Metuamate says.

“It’s not just about me, my wife, son or auntie; it’s actually about our whole community and the most vulnerable in our community are the ones at risk if we don’t get this vaccination.

“It’s important that as leaders in the Church and Pasifika community, we show unity and strength against this virus for our communities to follow.

“The key factor to us, and why we know we can play an important role, is that nearly 80 per cent of Pasifika people have some form of religious affiliation.”

The widely-circulated campaign information includes a video and handouts in English, Tongan and Samoan. It encourages families to work together for the wellbeing of their communities and addresses fears people may have.


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News category: New Zealand.

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