Pasifika church members urge others to get Covid-19 vaccine

Members of an Auckland church have changed their stance on the Covid-19 vaccine after the death of a member of their congregation.

The Assembly of God Church of Samoa is the focus of the country's largest sub-cluster of the Delta outbreak.

The country's latest victim of Covid-19 was a deacon at the Assemblies of God Church of Sāmoa.

The 50-year-old man died at Auckland's Middlemore Hospital this week after 40 days in intensive care.

His wife is also battling the virus in hospital.

Dr Maryann Heather at South Seas Healthcare in Ōtara said it's been devastating to see the impacts on the families first hand.

"Definitely been devastating it has been pretty tough and heartbreaking. Some of the patients said to me if I knew what I knew before, I would have gotten Covid and ended up in hospital I would have gone and got my vaccination and got my family covered," she said.

"Even though it is tough, but now I think it has made people kind of sit up and take it a bit more seriously."

Dr Heather said it's crucial people get vaccinated to protect themselves and the wider community.

"A lot of the church members that were at the AOG that kinda didn't really believe in vaccinations, they have all gone to get the vaccinations," she said.

"It takes that happening before our community will take it seriously. We shouldn't be an ambulance at the bottom of a cliff. Prevention is always better than cure," Heather said.


Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi  Caption: A testing station at the Samoan Assembly of God Church in South Auckland's Māngere.