The winter recess has one week left to go before most politicians will be back in Wellington, hoping that the worst of the winter weather is almost behind us.
These next few weeks will be crucial for the vaccination programme, and how it is perceived among the public. From Jacinda Ardern to Chris Hipkins on down – with some helpful encouragement from Ashley Bloomfield – the refrain has been “it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish”. In other words, what matters is getting the whole population done, and a high proportion of it.
In a purely public health sense, that is surely true. But this is pandemic politics. New Zealand may end the programme very effectively, but sometimes the perception of a shambles in the middle is the thing that sticks.
Let’s cut through the bullshit here, Luke Malpass is right, the vaccine roll out is all that matters now.
Jacinda and Labour have pulled off one of the greatest public health coups on the planet. Their fearless leadership, their communication tactics and over all strategy has seen us saved from the full ravages of this pandemic.
Yes we are under vaccinated but this is due to us being only 5million people and a supply issue with big pharma. It makes no sense for us to be vaccinated when the virus isn’t rampant here.
Yes there have been holes at the border in terms of workers being fully vaccinated but these are complex fast moving situations and to date good luck and a solid track and trace system have combined to keep outbreaks at a minimum.
So I would argue that to date the vaccination roll out, limited by supply constraints, has been perfectly functional and the Opposition’s criticism is more political than genuine.
My point is ‘to date’ because the real challenge is now in front of us and this is where the wheels could come off.
The fundamental challenge in front of the Government is how the poorly funded clown camp of Public Health manages the full vaccine roll out. This is the very same public health system that failed miserably with the Measles epidemic in 2019 and their lack of community appropriate messaging means vulnerable communities needing vaccination may miss out.
The naked truth is that the public health system does not have enough people to actually put the needles in arms.
To date the Government have set low ball thresholds for vaccination so that they look like they are progressing, that pretense ends when the doors open for everyone to get the jab.
Expect vast levels of incompetence, confusion and anger as the main roll out starts falling over. That’s why Labour keep pushing the dates out because they know public health isn’t ready yet.
If we get another break out while this vaccination roll out falls over, that’s when the solidarity that has rewarded Labour turns bitter.
Opening a travel bubble with Australia always risked the virus getting into NZ before we were fully vaccinated, if that occurs while the main vaccine roll out falters, there will be political hell to pay.
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