Two west Auckland-based Pacific nurses known as the ‘super vaxxers’ have delivered close to 20,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses between them since the roll-out began last year.
Peleiupu Tautua and Toakase Taufa, who are also mothers and church ministers’ wives, credit their faith and motivation to protect their loved ones and community for their success.
Though reluctant to accept praise, pointing to the support of their incredible administrative staff and wider team, they have been big contributors to The Fono’s more than 115,000 doses its delivered to date.
Originally from Samoa, Peleiupu Tautua, who has been a nurse for over 20 years, specialising in paediatrics, considers herself “very fortunate” to be “one of the frontliners” working for the Henderson-based Pacific health provider partner during the pandemic.
She describes the August Delta outbreak as “a real eye-opener”, describing the fear felt by the Pacific community in particular, which was hit really hard.
“We were sent to the heart of it and started with swabbing at that time... and returned later to help vaccinate the Assemblies of God congregation.
“With us being ministers’ wives, we were able to relate …and speak the language.”
Toakase Taufa, who migrated to New Zealand with her husband and three daughters in 1999 from Tonga and has also been a nurse for over 20 years, described that time as especially challenging.
“We were a bit stressed but we knew we needed to do this for our people.
“We were just thankful to have an important job to do.”
With the latest Omicron outbreak, Mrs Tautua describes there being the presence of fear again in the community.
“But this time, we were quite prepared physically and mentally and spiritually. Every morning we kept praying.”
She says it’s been pleasing that people hear and know the vaccine can protect them and have been wanting to get their booster doses.
“There’s still a lot of work to do with getting more of our people boosted.”
She says people need to be reminded about how important it is to get that extra layer of protection, particularly those who have had COVID-19, who need to make sure to get it three months after they’ve recovered.
For the pair, the flu vaccine is also top of mind at the moment.
Mrs Tautua, who did multiple two-week stints in Samoa during the deadly 2019 measles outbreak, is “absolutely worried” about what other illnesses this winter might bring, particularly with the border having re-opened.
She says there’s only one way to get ahead and protect our most vulnerable.
“We hope for a one-stop shop for COVID-19, flu and other immunisations.
“We need to maintain a specific place for pop-ups as there’s still a lot of people making up their minds.
“When they finally make up their minds, it’s important they know where to go.”