SunLive         

Kia ora! If you are Māori, live in the Waiariki rohe and are currently unvaccinated, this column is directed at you.

Please give me five minutes of your time. It could save your life.

Our vaccination rates as a Māori population in the Bay of Plenty District Health Board region are currently very low. Covid-19 is a disease caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. It affects your lungs, airways and other organs.

It is still unclear how the virus came to infect humans. The virus has since undergone genetic mutations over time as it adapts to humans. Some of these mutations, such as the Delta variant, can spread more easily than the original virus and cause more severe disease.

The symptoms of Covid-19 are similar to common illnesses such as the cold or flu, and while some people will only experience mild-to-moderate symptoms, older people, Māori and Pasifka, as well as those with underlying medical conditions, are at higher risk of severe illness from the virus.

This can be divided into two major issues. Firstly, a viral attack on the body and the harm that causes. Secondly, the virus could also trigger an immune reaction which can also cause serious harm.

Symptoms tend to arise around two-to-five days after a person is infected, but symptoms can take up to 14 days to show.

A person with Covid-19 can pass it on to others from up to two days before showing symptoms. To complicate things, sometimes people may have Covid-19 but not have any symptoms. What we are seeing from the current cases of people who are getting Covid-19 is that they are unvaccinated.

If you are currently unvaccinated, Covid-19 will likely find you as opposed to your whānau who have been vaccinated.

The thing is, you may then become a spreader and potentially infect those of your friends and whānau who are also unvaccinated. They may not be as resilient as you, as they may have compromised immune systems and may end up needing serious help – possibly even intensive care in hospital. It’s risky and could have serious consequences.

The Pfizer vaccine passed strict safety checks before it was approved for use in New Zealand, and millions of people around the world have now safely received it.

Like it does for all approved vaccines, Medsafe will continue to monitor Pfizer to make sure it continues to meet our high safety standards.

Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and your family from Covid-19. The vaccine saves lives and means you’re far less likely to get sick and end up in hospital if you catch the virus. Again, it also means you’re less likely to transmit the virus to your loved ones.

Getting vaccinated will also give you choices in the future. It will ensure you can enjoy another great Kiwi summer, and will open up opportunities like big events and travel going forward.

Government are preparing the framework for vaccination certificates, which will enable the vaccinated population to attend outdoor events and stay safe – away from unvaccinated people. There may also be restrictions at cafes and restaurants for those who are unvaccinated. That work is still underway.

November will be the month that these changes will take effect, so if you are unvaccinated, if you haven’t had your first dose yet, you can book your appointment at: bookmyvaccine.nz or by calling: 0800 28 29 26.

Please get vaccinated. For you. For your whānau. For your whakapapa. For your summer.

Tamati Coffey
Labour List MP