Most of Dunedin council vaccinated

Australia's immunisation drive got a boost on Thursday with the arrival of Moderna doses in about...
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Almost all Dunedin councillors are encouraging people to get vaccinated against Covid-19 and all but one have received at least one jab.

Cr Marie Laufiso said she considered it was among her duties as an elected member to be vaccinated and she had encouraged other people to consider it.

This encouragement took the form of talking to people one on one and in small gatherings.

Cr Laufiso had a blunt message for young Maori and Pasifika people who expressed hesitation about getting the vaccine.

"Don’t be like people of Fiji," she had told them.

Dunedin City Councillor Marie Laufiso. Photo: File
Dunedin City Councillor Marie Laufiso. Photo: File
"They’ve been duped by the Facebook messages of the original anti-vaxxers who are largely wealthy, white and American-based."

Such people did not care about "whether you die from Covid-19 and they sure as hell don’t care about your whanau".

Cr Laufiso referred to a series of inequities faced by Pacific peoples and she said Covid-19 had exacerbated the struggles for survival faced by Maori since 1840.

Her home bubble of four — including her sister who works at a retirement home and two superannuitants — got their first shots together and would again for the second dose.

Deputy mayor Christine Garey hoped Dunedin could lead New Zealand in vaccination rates.

"I applaud the work of Te Kaika and frontline health professionals in our city to deliver vaccinations to all corners of our community," she said.

Cr Carmen Houlahan said she was booked in for her second vaccine.

"I would love to see our city set an ambitious goal of a 90% vaccination rate," Cr Houlahan said.

She wanted to be able to travel internationally again and to protect people such as her son, who was immune-compromised.

Cr Steve Walker said he got his second Pfizer vaccine dose last month and boasted about it on his Facebook pages.

The vaccination programme reduced the risk of him and his family becoming infected or severely ill and he said individuals getting fully vaccinated was about "contributing to community protection for all of us".

Cr Andrew Whiley was double-vaccinated.

"I would hate to put anyone at risk and do believe councillors can be positive role models."

Cr Jules Radich said, as a Meals on Wheels driver, he was double-vaccinated early in the rollout.

"People have the right of free speech and personal decisions, but community good can be an over-riding consideration."

Cr Lee Vandervis, who took part in a "freedom picnic" last weekend, said he was yet to get a Pfizer injection, but his wife had.

He had doubts about the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness.

"I believe that elected members should not presume to do citizens' medical thinking for them ... but rather we should encourage people to know their rights and do research first."

Mayor Aaron Hawkins said elected representatives should be encouraging people to get on board, "to tell them it is safe and that it works".

It was reprehensible for any community or religious leader or columnist to use their platform to minimise risks of Covid-19 and to promote vaccine hesitancy, he said.

Cr Jim O’Malley, who used to work for Pfizer, said anyone in a public role should get in behind vaccination.

Cr David Benson-Pope has been fully vaccinated since June.

"My attitude is that vaccines are an essential tool to protect our community from preventable disease," he said.

Cr Sophie Barker encouraged everyone to get vaccinated, "not only to protect our population and loved ones, but also so that we can get back to some sort of normal business and lives".

Cr Rachel Elder said the programme helped keep vulnerable and elderly people safer.

"If we want to support the safe recovery of our business, we need to keep our people safe — to do that we need to be at least 90% vaccinated."

Who is vaccinated

Fully vaccinated: Aaron Hawkins, Steve Walker, Chris Staynes, Sophie Barker, Rachel Elder, Jules Radich, Andrew Whiley, David Benson-Pope, Christine Garey, Mike Lord, Doug Hall.
One dose: Marie Laufiso, Carmen Houlahan, Jim O’Malley.
Unvaccinated: Lee Vandervis.