World Immunisation Week kicks off today and Markerita Poutasi, National Director Pacific Health, has a simple message for Pacific communities: do what’s best for you and your aiga/kainga.

“Only 73 percent of Pacific 24-month-olds in New Zealand are fully immunised,” says Markerita. “This is well short of our goal of 95 percent, which means not only are our children not safe from a raft of illnesses, there is also a greater risk of passing these viruses on to the more vulnerable people in our communities.

Measles is a particular worry as it is extremely infectious and can make people who are not protected very sick or even cause death, as proven by the deadly 2019 measles outbreak in Samoa.

“Samoa had low levels of immunisation before the outbreak, but now they are very high. Given how many people travel between New Zealand and Samoa, they’re now looking to us to help protect their communities by improving our immunisation rates.”

It’s also a good idea to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the flu.

Immunisation stops people from passing diseases to their aiga/ kainga, particularly to those who may not have strong immune systems. As we head into winter, high immunisation rates against viruses such as flu and COVID-19 keep will help make sure fewer people end up in hospital, which also lowers the burden on our dedicated health workers.”

This year World Immunisation Week is focused on making sure all children have access to immunisation regardless of where they live or their socioeconomic status. To celebrate, many Pacific healthcare providers will be out in their communities providing vaccinations.

“If you see an event, why not take your family and check it out? It’s a great way to get more information and you and your aiga/kainga can get immunised right then and there,” says Markerita.

“And to our Pacific providers—Fa’afetai lava for all the incredible work you put in to keep our people safe.”

How to book your vaccine

The latest information about immunisation is available on the Health NZ| Te Whatu Ora website: Immunisations | Health Information and Services. There are a few ways to book your vaccine:

  • Visit to book a vaccine for yourself, a family member, or a group.
  • Call the Vaccination Healthline on 0800 28 29 26 – available 8:30am to 5.00pm Monday to Friday for information, advice, and support to book a vaccination. Calls are free.
  • Contact your local pharmacy, GP or Pacific health provider.
  • Attend a local or regional Pacific health provider event. Please email us to find out about an event happening in your region.

LISTEN: Markerita Poutasi Talks to 531PI about vaccinating Pacific peoples and World Immunisation Week