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Dr Michelle Schaaf stresses the importance of getting vaccinated

Thursday 19 August 2021 4:12pm

One of the leading Pacific voices at the University of Otago is calling on the wider Pacific staff network to get vaccinated.

Michelle Schaaf image
Division of Humanities Associate Dean Pacific Dr Michelle Schaaf.

Last August, news broke that two positive cases of COVID‑19 had visited Rotorua on a family vacation, where Dr Michelle Schaaf had just returned from.

“We heard the news as I was getting ready for work, it stopped me in my tracks,” she says.

“We had to self-isolate and the first thing that came to me was ‘what if I brought the COVID‑19 virus back with me?’”

This was enough for Dr Schaaf to commit to getting the vaccine as soon as she was able.

“I’ve got vulnerable people in my family. I’ve got an elderly father and my son is asthmatic. I have also got my academic family at work, my church family, and my wider pacific community.”

Dr Schaaf maintains the importance for Pacific staff to book their vaccination.

“It’s about having a duty of care and diligence.”

Dr Schaaf went to the Dunedin-based health provider Te Kāika for her vaccinations and shares her experience.

“It was nice to see people that you know from the community receiving and administering the vaccinations. I had a lovely nurse from our Dunedin Catholic Samoan community.

It was an opportunity to get my vaccination in what I thought was a culturally safe space. They were friendly and I knew them, so it wasn’t so daunting.”

Dr Schaaf reassures those who may be apprehensive about the vaccination process.

“It is very private and their staff are very professional. They explain everything to you and walk you through the steps. It is quite a user-friendly process.

They will even ask if you have any preferences for the injection. I don’t personally like needles and they were very accommodating,” she says.

Dr Schaaf explains that certain temporary side-effects should be expected following the injection.

“I experienced what felt like a slightly bruised arm, a little numbness. One may also experience flu-like symptoms.”

However, Dr Schaaf reiterates that “the nurses tell you what to expect, and they also have a helpline available”.

Dr Schaaf implores the Pacific staff of the University of Otago to get their vaccinations with a final message.

“I think its worth a little discomfort to get the vaccination for a bigger purpose.

We’re not individual selves, we’re a collective self. It’s a cloak of protection for our community.”