Bay of Plenty Health Board apologises for requesting passports from Pasifika community at vaccinations

Pasifika community members have been left hurt and distressed after being required to show their passport when receiving their Covid-19 vaccinations in the Bay of Plenty.

The Bay of Plenty District Health Board posted an apology on its Facebook page late on Sunday night.

“This is not our policy, nor a requirement, and we are deeply disappointed that this has happened.

“Our commitment is to ensure that we address the issues that led to this failure and ensure it absolutely does not happen again.”

The Ministry of Health has made it clear there is enough of the Pfizer vaccine for everyone in New Zealand, despite citizenship or residential status. It is free to all of those living in New Zealand.

“We acknowledge, with regret, that this incident has affected trust and confidence in us among our Pasifika community. We have written to, and spoken with, our Pasifika provider partner today to express our apologies directly,” the DHB continues.

“We are sorry.”

The health board stated it would be meeting with community leaders on Monday to discuss how they could work together to “advance the health and wellbeing” of the region’s Pasifika community.

TVNZ reported on Sunday that a provider who tried to register Pasifika families for vaccinations on Friday was told by the Bay of Plenty DHB it wanted to see their passports to check if they were seasonal workers.

Speaking to one of the families involved, TVNZ said they were left distressed at the situation and wanted to withdraw from the vaccination programme altogether.

Last month, the DHB was left to apologise after a Covid-19 vaccine pamphlet was deemed racist and implied Māori were the virus.

The pamphlet featured cartoons of a virus with a mataora or full-face moko. Another image depicted a person stabbing a virus with a tewhatewha or spear.

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