Over 20 nurses from hauora Māori partners across Te Ikaroa took part in a three-day wānanga in Palmerston North end of last year to become qualified immunisation vaccinators.

Led by Te Whatu Ora National Public Health Service and Te Aka Whai Ora, local nurses and midwives collaborated, shared experiences, learned from leadership and experienced vaccinators about the vital mahi to ensure tamariki and whānau are immunised and protected from preventable diseases like measles, influenza, and whooping cough.

The wānanga culminated in the newly qualified immunisation vaccinators putting what they had learned into practice with 84 tamariki vaccinated in walk in and outreach clinics.

Te Aka Whai Ora Chief Medical Officer, Dr Rawiri McKree Jansen was delighted to see health professionals from across the rohe come to upskill and had high praise for the initiative. He hopes other regions will follow suit.

“Training opportunities like this wānanga are important for our workforce. Working together as a team and building relationships which will make a difference going back to our communities and whānau.”

The national target for childhood immunisations is 95%, with tamariki Māori currently sitting at 66.8% for pēpi at 8 months, 70.1% for tamariki at 24 months, and 69.7% for tamariki at 5 years.

“Supporting our kaimahi Māori and wider workforce to be part of the solution to bringing immunisation rates up is vital to ensure positive results for our tamariki and whānau,” says Dr Jansen.

Feedback from the midwives and nurses who took part was overwhelmingly positive.

Registered nurse, Kahungunu Executive ki Te Wairoa Charitable Trust, Nina Dougherty says it was a good opportunity to network and speak with other nurses about their mahi.

“Coming together as a rōpū to strategise and troubleshoot some of the challenges we face on immunisation was hugely beneficial,” says Nina.

“It’s awesome that we have more vaccinators in our rohe to provide better access for our whānau. Being able to incorporate the knowledge and skills we learnt through the wānanga with our own cultural approach, means we’re able to deliver more safe and effective immunisations.”