Asian flu vaccination programme reaching more people in our community

Latest News 21 August 2020 |The Counties Manukau Health (CM Health) Community Flu Fighters programme has this year reached over 900 people from the Chinese, Indian, Korean and Cambodian communities as well as other groups.

The collaboration between CM Health’s Asian Health team, Unichem Pakuranga, Auckland Chinese Medical Association (ACMA) and local organisations delivered free flu vaccination clinics in locations close to where the communities live and socialise.

The programme, which ran from March to June, held 19 clinics in 18 locations, including Asian community centres, Sikh and Buddhist temples and one retirement village. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, in many of the clinics people kept to bubbles of no more than ten. Some clinics offered free blood pressure checks and health advice. More than 40% of people vaccinated were having their flu shot for the first time.

“This year, we vaccinated more than double last year,” says Asian Health Gain Advisor Kitty Ko.

“The feedback we received was very positive. Our Asian communities, especially the elderly, appreciate when we run clinics in locations that are convenient to them, easy to access and with which they already have a link to, such as temples and community centres,” says Ms Ko.

“They are very appreciative and report that it saves them time spent booking appointments and travelling to their family doctors. It also minimises the barriers to people with physical disabilities and others who are housebound.”

According to Unichem Pakuranga Lead Pharmacist Vicky Chan, key to the success of the clinics was connecting with community leaders, who helped promote the importance of the flu vaccination, as well as having pharmacists from similar cultural background to the people they are vaccinating.

“It breaks the barrier and helps put people more at ease. If they can ask questions in their own language they feel safer.”

An innovation this year was the participation of two volunteer Community Engagement Coordinators that helped engage with the Cambodian and Vietnamese communities.

“This was the first time we delivered a flu clinic in a Cambodian temple. It was really great to start this new partnership,” says Ms Ko.

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