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The Farcical Covid-19 Vaccination Rollout

I am over 65 and one of the 700,000 people over 65 yet to be vaccinated. I recently asked my doctor when his clinic would be notified that I could get vaccinated. He had no idea because the Ministry of Health or DHB have not been communicating with him. In fact, he did not have a nice word to say about the ministry or the government.

The ministry will not communicate with his practice. He added that the government is lying about the rollout and undertaking a propaganda programme to influence peoples’ thinking through media releases on how good things are. He believes the government does not have any or enough vaccines. He also said that some places are following the rules and vaccinating the right groups and others are not, administering the vaccine to who they like.

I told my friends this story one night at tennis. They told me this:

  • Two daughters, age 38 to 40, have been vaccinated because they are supposed to be client facing. They are public servants.
  • Another playing partner is getting vaccinated next week even though he is under 65, because his partner is Maori and the whole family is getting vaccinated because a relative is over 65. He signed up through them.
  • Then I was told that they knew of two men in their 40s who had been vaccinated because their clinic phoned to say they had some spare vaccines and would they like to come in.

On the radio the other day, I heard that over 70’s on the Kapiti coast are still waiting to be vaccinated. My friend’s parents finally got theirs, but had to go to the Maori health clinic in Waiwhetu after not hearing anything from CCDHB! This correlates with what my doctor told me.

With the recent potential outbreak in Wellington, which was bound to happen via an infected Australian tourist, I feel quite vulnerable. The delta variant is very dangerous, contagious and this government is moving incredibly slowly. New Zealand is at the bottom of every table for vaccinating its population. Only 2% of over 65s have been vaccinated. Yet people under this age, who are not in any of the first three categories are getting vaccinated. It is a mess.

This variant kills both old and young healthy people. A good friend of my brother in Thailand who managed the Hardrock Café caught Covid-19 while closing the place with a work colleague. He wore two face masks and only for a moment removed his masks (we believe), to wipe his brow. He got infected and was in hospital. He passed it to his wife, who is now dead. They were both fifty, fit and healthy.

Ennor Brady, the British correspondent on ZB talkback contracted Covid-19, even while wearing a mask and keeping the required 2 metre distance when interviewing people and had had his first vaccine shot. He said he was very fit (he had been training for a marathon). He was very ill and could hardly breath or get out of bed. It was like having a slab of concrete on his chest.

My daughter tells me that her friends in India, via her old work (a very large American multi-national company), are losing family and friends in droves to the delta variant (the media is not telling the full story). One person was proud of the fact he had only lost 20% of his work force to Covid-19.  The same is happening in Brazil via her ex-work colleagues.

Sadly, we have become incredibly complacent about Covid-19 and this government has failed to protect this country in the timeframe they said they would. I was supposed to be vaccinated in May, now it is July, and no word when I will get it. I feel very vulnerable along with just about 95% of the Wellington population due to the recent scare we had. That is simply not good enough.

Last week, everyone received a text from the Ministry of Health, instead of only to Group 3, on behalf of my medical centre. It stated I would “be contacted soon with an invitation to book your vaccination”. The kicker was this would take “place over several months”. Simply put, what a mess. Firstly, everyone got the text, and secondly it stated it would take place over several months. To add insult to injury, New Zealand was running out of vaccines anyway. As my doctor rightly said, we did not have any left. Now we have received 150,000 vaccines. Is that 150,000 times six shots, the one million promised shots? I certainly hope so. Will the right people be invited to be vaccinated? I hear rumours that secondary school kids in the Lower Hutt have already been invited to get their vaccination. Hello!?

Finally, the Dominion Post ran a front-page article (3 July 2021), on over 65s travelling out of town to get vaccinated. There were problems of communication, secret 0800 numbers and people still not receiving their second vaccination.  Chris Hipkins justified the shambles by stating the government felt it unethical to pay a premium to get the vaccinations earlier (a position supported by the Dominion Post editorial – 3 July 2021). This position has simply left New Zealand in a potential state of fear and vulnerability, our economy on a knife edge and our borders closed. Yet, in another article in the Dominion Post Janet Wilson wrote, “We are at the bottom of the list for vaccination rates in the OECD, we’ve administered 18.49 doses per 100 people” (Dominion Post, 3 Jul, 2021). That is simply not good enough. This view is a double edge sword. If a serious outbreak of the delta variant was/is to occur in New Zealand (it is not a case of if, but when), how will that principle look and feel then?  I might have to wait till August to be vaccinated, but then it might be too late for me and many others in my age bracket.

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