The Jab Cab, a Te Tuinga Whanau Trust initiative, is roaming the streets aiming to take the anxiety out of the Covid-19 vaccination.
The van will be a visible presence in the community enabling people to get information and taking people to clinics for vaccinations.
Te Tuinga Whanau executive director Tommy Wilson says they are taking the fear out of getting the jab.
“At the moment there's almost a flood of fear being created by what I consider poorly informed people.”
Providing people with correct information in a language they understand will dispel misinformation and conspiracy theories circulating on social media and in the community, says Tommy.
“We're just sharing that taiaha of knowledge. The taiaha of knowledge will win all battles that Maori face in the future.
“Information is powerful.”
The jab cab is part of the trust’s Pfizer for Whanau initiative, the hope is they will be able to set up a vaccination clinic at the Greerton RSA, where they provide temporary accommodation for homeless people.
Te Tuinga Whanau looks after 150 families and has around 80 people walk in a week looking for advice or help. Tommy says they also work with prisoners, gang members, homeless, poor people and the elderly.
Having a clinic at the RSA will enable them to provide a safe and comfortable space for people, rather than a sterile environment where clinicians might not know their background or the challenges they face, says Tommy.
TTW social worker Scotty Harvey says a clinic at the RSA will bring whanau together and they will spread the word and create trust.
“If we follow the people that we trust, people will get it [the vaccine].”
Scotty and Tommy liken word of mouth to the kumara vine and say people might not read or watch the news but they’ll listen to the kumara vine.
“The kumara vine is very powerful and we have branches of the kumara vine that go into all sectors of the community,” says Tommy.
Scotty runs a men’s group and he aims to equip these men with facts about the vaccine.
“We’re giving them information so that they can go away and empower their whanau.”
Both Tommy and Scotty plan to get the vaccine when it is available and want to set an example to others.
Tommy says, “I'm telling everyone, I will get vaccinated as soon as it comes along”.
“They don't have to get vaccinated, but I want them to make informed choices based on good sound evidence not on conspiratorial stuff.
“We’ve got two choices, be part of the solution or be part of the problem,” says Tommy.
“We’re using knowledge as a weapon to fight this battle, because this is a real war.”
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