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Disability support to overcome vaccine barriers

Disability support to overcome vaccine barriers

  • 11 Oct 2021
  • |
  • COVID-19

In efforts to get everyone in Aotearoa vaccinated against COVID-19, a 30-strong team has been set up to support disabled people navigate obstacles in accessing the vaccine.

The team is part of the Ministry of Health COVID Vaccination Healthline, where disabled people and their carers can receive tailored vaccination advice and support.

Pacific Lead, Disability, Strategy Policy and Performance at the Ministry of Health Tofa Suafole Gush says this extra support is welcomed by the disabled community.

“For our Pacific people with disabilities, there has been a demand for information which is consistent, as well as disability friendly resources,” Tofa says.

“When it comes to getting vaccinated, transport has been a major barrier for many in our disabled community; and there are some people who have a fear of going out in public, to get the vaccine.”

The 30-strong disability services team will be able to advise the community about booking vaccination appointments and assist with coordinating transport to and from vaccination sites and arranging the necessary accommodation during the appointment. 

Tofa says the aim is to ensure all Pacific disabled people receive the support they require, and this is made possible by the support of many Pacific partners and Pacific providers utilising mobile clinics and connecting to local mainstream disability providers.  

Through engaging with the Pacific disabled community, the team has have been able to establish and provide more information and visibility of what is happening in this space is needed, she says.

“We now  have a weekly radio segment (531PI) for disability issues guests are from the disability community, and disability friendly resources co-designed by a small group of disabled members are now featured on Prepare Pacific’s Facebook page which has been supported by The Cause Collective.”

Since the disability services team was established on September 22, the team have facilitated transport access for over 440 people.

 The team can support people with a range of disabilities including: 

  • Blind, Deafblind and low vision
  • Deaf and hard of hearing
  • Physical impairments
  • Intellectual impairments
  • Neuro diverse
  • Long term health conditions

Disabled people are represented across all sectors of the population and anyone who self-identifies as disabled can use this service, which is personalised and caters specifically to individual needs of the service user. 

As the service is new, it is expected to evolve in the coming weeks, depending on the community’s feedback. 

Support can be accessed by calling the COVID Vaccination Healthline on 0800 28 29 26 for free from 8 am – 8 pm Monday to Friday and push 2. 

Visit the Unite Against COVID-19 website for information about support for disabled people.