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NZ Pacific Islanders reach 90% vaccinated

 Malia Su-emalo Lui, a receiving a covid-19 vaccination
Source: RNZ Pacific

Wellington, NEW ZEALAND — Pacific Island New Zealanders are now 90 percent fully vaccinated against Covid-19, and a public health expert is urging them to keep up that momentum in the New Year.

In yesterday's daily briefing, the Ministry of Health said 90 percent of eligible Pacific people in New Zealand have now had both vaccines.

Dr Collin Tukuitonga from the University of Auckland said that is a tremendous effort and the threat of Omicron is the next challenge.

He hopes the community embraces booster shots to guard against the more infectious variant.

"It looks as if the two doses doesn't give you enough protection for Omicron, and the most important priority now is to get people to get their boosters as soon as that's possible."

He hopes as many regions move into lower levels of restrictions in the government's Framework Protection system people will still stay vigilant, contact trace and get tested.

"There's a risk that people might have gone back into a lower level of alertness, so I would hope that we maintain that [alertness].

"In mid-late January I think we're going to have to ramp up once again in respect of rolling out the vaccine for the young ones."

Children aged between 5 and 11 become eligible for Covid-19 vaccinations in mid-January, and those 12 and older are already eligible.

Tukuitonga said rolling out vaccinations for children could also be a challenge, and parents may need encouragement.

"Parents are perhaps less certain about the benefits and more concerned about risks. So every effort is going to be needed to get the vaccination rollout in children up to the kind of levels that is needed."