Jack Tame: It's too late to set vaccination records

Author
Jack Tame,
Publish Date
Sat, 28 Aug 2021, 9:54AM
(Photo / NZ Herald)
(Photo / NZ Herald)

Jack Tame: It's too late to set vaccination records

Author
Jack Tame,
Publish Date
Sat, 28 Aug 2021, 9:54AM

It’s the right decision to extend the lockdown for the whole country. It sucks. But we simply don’t have enough people vaccinated to expose our health system any more cases than we already are.

To me, what’s interesting about the daily stats is the Covid-19 case numbers versus hospitalisations. This Delta outbreak totals 347 people according to the latest figures. 19 of those people are in hospital. About 5.5%. Admittedly it’s not a great sample size, but you can see how quickly our health system might be overwhelmed with a few thousand cases, especially if they were centred in one region. Delta would get away on us *incredibly* quickly. 

For areas outside of Auckland and Northland, I think sacrificing the weekend and a few extra days at Level Four is worth it for the security of knowing there is no Delta in the community. Again, it sucks. But it’s like turning around to double-check you locked the front door when you’re leaving town on holiday. You’re pretty sure you remembered. You’re 98% sure the door is locked and everything is safe. But sometimes the inconvenience that comes with being certain is worth it for the peace of mind.

I say that as someone who looks enviously upon a move to Level 3. It’s obviously not happening anytime soon, in Auckland. Again though, I think this is pretty much the government’s only option. And as much as I didn’t want to hear it I’m glad they’re being straight up about the likelihood we’ll be at Level 4 for another few weeks.

So, then, reasonable decisions about the lockdowns with the information they have available at this moment. But it would be remiss not to point out that we find ourselves in this moment because of decisions made by the same people and their officials earlier in the pandemic.

For whatever reasons – and I think there are like many, some of which were out of officials’ control and some of which weren’t – we have found ourselves woefully behind in the vaccination programme. Ministers are incredibly defensive whenever they are challenged on this. But you can’t take credit for one part of the response and shirk all responsibility for another. The vaccination rates speak for themselves. All I can think, anytime someone stands up at the start of a press conference and says ‘First, some good news...’ is actually now isn’t the time to be setting vaccination records. That time was months ago.

Delta is insidious. I’m not saying more vaccinations would have meant we didn’t need some lockdown restrictions. But a much higher vaccination rate would have reduced the likelihood of people getting hospitalised or dying of Covid-19. And isn’t that the government’s long-stated goal?

One last thought. By my count, before this outbreak, areas outside of Auckland had spent a total of 51 days locked down in either Level 3 or Level 4. Auckland had spent 79 days at Level 3 or Level 4. That’s right, before this outbreak, Aucklanders had spent four weeks in lockdown more than the rest of the country. If we do manage to eliminate Delta this time, that margin is going to extend a whole lot further. Aucklanders will take the biggest hit.

So, with that in mind, a suggestion: Let’s all send our latte-sipping, Lululemon slinking, urban-tractor driving, Waiheke weekending, Ponsnobby-bungalow-flipping mates some good will for a change. Yes, they’re fun to tease! But if we do beat Delta this time, the ‘09’ will have made the biggest sacrifice, once again. I never thought I would say this. I never thought I would utter these words.

Let’s all spare a thought...for Auckland.