Vaccination rates making a huge impact: Director-general of health

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 2 Dec 2021, 10:07AM

Vaccination rates making a huge impact: Director-general of health

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 2 Dec 2021, 10:07AM

High vaccination rates are making a big impact on Covid with both cases numbers and hospitalisations levelling on the day before the country moves to the new traffic light and Auckland's hospitality businesses finally reopen. 

Director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said this morning the outbreak was under control due to vaccinations. 

"I think that's very fair and actually the vaccination rate is having a real effect. Nationwide it is now 93 per cent first dose." he told Newstalk ZB. 

The majority of the 146 new Covid cases yesterday were in Auckland, but some experts are predicting the numbers will rise as they move to the traffic light system and start mingling with others outside their bubbles. 

Auckland moves into the red traffic light setting because it is the epicentre of the outbreak and will be joined by Northland, Taupō and Rotorua Lakes Districts, Kawerau, Whakatāne, Ōpōtiki District, Gisborne District, Wairoa District, Rangitīkei, Whanganui and Ruapehu Districts largely due to the lower vaccination rates in those areas. 

The new framework is based around high vaccination rates enabling living with Covid-19 in the community and relies on the use of vaccination passports at more high-risk settings. 

Bloomfield said they wanted to take the cautious approach to the new traffic light settings and see what the change does and whether it causes more cases. 

But Auckland's red light setting would "certainly" be reviewed in two weeks if cases remain steady and vaccination rates still continue to head upwards and the signs so far were good. 

As for people in rural areas being concerned with the borders about to be relaxed and Kiwis road tripping at summer, he didn't think people should be "more or less worried than we might usually be". 

The Ministry of Health had been talking to doctors about the support that they needed not only for just Covid, but over the whole summer. 

There was a lot of concern in Te Tai Tokerau from iwi and those working in health as they tried to get the vaccination numbers up and requests for the hard border to stay in place, Bloomfield told The AM Show. 

But his advice was that requiring people to be fully vaccinated or have a test along with the region being placed in the red traffic light setting provided a higher level of protection than under the current alert level 2 setting. 

Likewise he didn't see any problem with children going back to school and only having one or no jabs, after the announcement that schoolchildren will be eligible for the vaccine in January. 

Most of the Delta cases that have affected children have occurred in the family home, not schools, he said. 

Immunology professor and Malaghan Institute director Graham Le Gros said the vaccine for children was a third of the Pfizer dose and "very safe". 

While many children who had contracted the virus had milder symptoms compared with older people, there were some children who reacted to the virus just like an older person would, he told Breakfast. 

"This virus - it doesn't matter who you are or how old or young - it will grow in your heart, it will grow in your brain, it will grow in your blood vessels. 

"We don't want that. We never let viruses grow in our body that way - and the vaccine is the only thing to prevent that." 

This is what we have and you are better off getting the vaccine rather than the virus, Le Gros said.