The Free Shot on us Uso vaccination event was a great reflection of Youth leadership with support from the church community, Health and NGO providers. Mangere Catholic Parishes of St Therese and St Anthony’s came together to play their part in vaccinating their church members and community.
Following a quick poll by the St Therese and St Anthony council and youth leaders, the results found that older members of the predominantly Pacific congregations had mostly been vaccinated but young adults were slower to mobilise for various reasons. In response, Vasa Toleafoa, a leader of the united Mangere Catholic Youth Group, took charge of the youth-led event with the support from church leaders and parishioners.
“The ‘Free Shot on us Uso’ event was nothing short of fun and positive,” recalls Toleafoa. “It was filled with so many young people, young adults, children and young-at-heart supporters. No words can express how happy we were to have seen members of our Parish Councils and especially our Parish Priests turn up and dance throughout the whole day to the music and to vibe with our youth!”
The vaccination event took place on Thursday 14 October on the grounds of St Therese Mangere East. The target of 150 vaccinations was achieved within three hours of the clinic opening at 11am, by the time gates closed at 4pm a “thrilling” 215 church and community members had received a vaccination.
Every person vaccinated received a box of groceries and a $50 voucher however the true reward was receiving the care and hospitality from their fellow parishioners and community as evidenced by the positive feedback received by those vaccinated. Lunch and baking treats were prepared by the youth and supporters and a DJ kept everyone’s spirits up with lively music.
While the day itself was a success, Toleafoa explained that the preparation called for several zoom meetings and collaborative, meticulous planning involving many partners including Pacific health providers that were connected to the National Health Response Coordination Centre for COVID-19 vaccinations. A mobile vaccination bus ensured adequate storage of the vaccines and the church hall was set up for registration, vaccinations, and a post observation area. Screening took place in the carpark.
“The journey behind the scenes was very difficult. Leading up to the event there were still bits and pieces which needed to be confirmed and processed. Thankfully, we had our parish mentors who were there for us when things didn’t go to plan. We would like to thank Pasefika Family Health, The Cause Collective, Do Good Feel Good, Interfaith Collective, the Ministry for Pacific Peoples, Foundation North and especially Moana Research for making this event possible for our youth.”
Protecting local parishioners and the community through vaccinations will hopefully signal a safe return to church and parish life.