Church leaders preach the good word about vaccines


Church leaders are preaching the good word – this time urging people to get their COVID-19 vaccinations.

Their campaign aims to fight against “echo chambers” of misinformation on social media amongst their communities.

“We know that 80 percent of Pasifika communities have some sort of affiliation with churches, church communities,” says John Kleinsman, director of the Catholic Church’s The Nathaniel Centre for Bioethics.

Kleinsman was talking on Newhub with Duncan Garner.

Using church communities to preach the good word about getting inoculated establishes a useful way to contact those who have not yet been inoculated, says Kleinsman.

“Our networks, we’re able to use those to reach those people and get the message through to those people,” he said, speaking of a combined church initiative in Newtown, Wellington.

Of concern is the possibility that vaccine uptake amongst Pasifika and Māori might be lagging behind other ethnicities, despite being more likely to be in a priority group.

Many older Māori and Pasifika as well as their carers were included in Group 2 for their COVID jabs (immediately behind priority staff like border workers).

Group 3 (the next cab off the rank) included people with underlying health conditions, which are typically more prevalent in Maori and Pasifika than others.

Just 6.1 percent of doses administered to date have gone to Pasifika, despite making up 7.4 percent of the population; and just 9 percent to Māori, despite being more than 16 percent of the population.

Whilst there might be other demographic reasons these numbers are lagging – such as the fact a high percentage of Maori and Pasifika are young, and still ineligible for the vaccine – Kleinsman suspects anti-vaccination misinformation and lies are creating hesitancy.

Kleinsman told Newshub that anti-vaccination activists have upped their activities in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and while experts have repeatedly debunked the claims, the message doesn’t appear to be getting through to some communities.


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News category: New Zealand.

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