Covid 19 Delta: Bill Ralston – vaccinations get harder as we encounter the stubborn

OPINION:

I’m sick of it. You’re sick of it. The Government, the bureaucracy, businesses, the entire city of Auckland and the rest of the country are over it. I’m tired of writing about it and you’re probably exhausted reading and hearing about it. The problem is, our eyes and ears are drawn to any news story, opinion column or public statement about Covid-19. The worldwide pandemic has taken over our lives. All of which is probably better than having Covid-19 take our lives.

We are drawn to Covid news because we hope to find a silver bullet that will see us somehow return to something near normal life. Sadly, there isn’t one – apart from endlessly waiting for enough of us to get vaccinated so that the restrictions can slowly be eased.

That day appears painfully far away. Increasingly, the word “Christmas” is creeping into public pronouncements on the matter. I am acutely aware that the Prime Minister and her key ministers are being subjected to a constant barrage of often-conflicting advice from health professionals, the public and commentators. It must drive themnuts.

I don’t think Jacinda Ardern reads this column. She is more likely to emit a small, pained shriek and file it in the wastepaper bin should any of her advisers foolishly hand her a copy. Nevertheless, if I can offer her a word of support, the Government’s handling of the crisis is probably as good as it could be – up until now.

It needs to get health workers who are overseas on a special speedy path through MIQ to bolster our hospitals and intensive care units. It’s beginning to do this, but should have started at least 12 months ago, because, eventually, when the lid does come off New Zealand and we hit something akin to Level 1, we are going to have a surge of cases, mainly among the determinedly unvaccinated.

We also need to urgently boost our MIQ facilities so we can admit as many of the 800,000 to one million missing Kiwis who live or travel abroad as now wish to return. Either that or allow double-vaccinated and recently tested arrivals to quarantine for a period at home or under their own steam.

The Government has moved down the path of mandating that healthcare staff, teachers and other essential workers be vaccinated. That is very good, but can I also suggest including hairdressers would be an idea, too. Locked-down Auckland must be a very hairy city by now. Like the excellent “picnic” approach to small gatherings, a freshly mown head of hair would help Aucklanders retain their sanity in this lockdown.

Nationally, the percentage of folk who have had one or two shots has topped 80 per cent as we edge painstakingly closer to 90 per cent . But the job is getting harder as it encounters the stubborn and, let’s be honest, the foolish among those not yet vaccinated. The prospect of having to remove your face mask to eat your turkey at Christmas may impel more to get their jabs, as will the possibility of watching through your living room window as a brilliant summer passes by.

But there will come a day when the Government has to start easing the restrictions. The economy will demand it. The population of Auckland and other affected regions will command it.

At that point, you want to have two jabs because you will be less likely to be infected, less likely to be hospitalised, less likely to require an ICU bed, more likely to live. Now that is a great Christmas present.

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