Man wearing mask image iva Getty
Man wearing mask image iva Getty

Peter Williams: Time to start living again

Opinion 18/05/2021

OPINION: Here’s a subject I haven’t talked about for a while - Covid. The reason we’re not talking about it is that we don’t have any here. Can you remember when the last case was identified in the community? I can’t either. 

Sure there’s a little dribble that comes through the border, but those cases are picked up, quarantined - not hospitalised - and life goes on. But I’m just staggered by a survey which has been done by Massey University, and published on Stuff - and yes, I know there should be warning signs with both of those institutions - but the numbers published are mind-boggling to me. 

How about these? 94 percent of people support regional lockdowns and 81 percent support a national lockdown if there’s another outbreak in this country - which they have decided is now called, Aotearoa. Maybe I live in rarefied air, but eight out of 10 people are still supporting a national lockdown? After all this time - really? 

But then this made me even more suspicious of either the methodology or the people who filled in the survey. Apparently, 68 percent of those surveyed said they wore a mask in public, and this is up from 48 percent about a year ago. Apart from being on a plane, when was the last time you saw someone wearing a mask in public? And seven out of 10 people wearing masks often or always? Not where I live and play and work. Is it different where you are?

Are you still wearing a mask in places where there are lots of people? Do you see people in masks often? And what’s the current situation on public transport? Is it being enforced on buses and trains? I know it is on planes, and the wastage and pollution from masks is what I would have thought becoming chronic. Are they recycled? Doubt it? Are they straight to the landfill? Probably. If you know what happens to used Air New Zealand masks, I would love to know.

And on the subject of the virus, did you see the story about people becoming “vaccinator assistants?”. I don’t know about you but I’m appalled. 

We’re short of 4,500 vaccinators - so people can apply for an online e-learning course, which is then followed by in-person training, supervised practice, and then a final assessment. But the Ministry of Health has not said how long this training period would be and whether or not prior qualifications or work experience in the health sector was required.

So we’re having a mass vaccination rollout which could be part administered by people with no previous history of work in the medical field, and because of the shortage of vaccinators, people will be rushed through their training. Is it really that important to jab the country with inexperienced vaccinators when we have no Covid in the country? The Nurses Organisation (NZNO) is rightly sceptical. As they point out, why wasn't the NZNO contacted? They represent both nurses and caregivers and their workforce has been overlooked in the whole rollout plan. 

If I was in the 25 percent of New Zealanders who were vaccine-hesitant for a number of reasons beforehand, I’m even more firmly in that camp now.

Have you had a vaccination recently? I note that up till April 10, there had been 917 adverse events following immunisation out of 117,746 doses administered, which means you have about 0.78 percent of feeling crook after the shot. 

Pretty small but there was one report of blood clots and one of a stroke. That’s official information, which I note you never see published on any mainstream media outlet - except this one. 

But are you comfortable getting the vaccination from somebody who knows nothing about your previous medical history, and who has been quickly trained up to do the job, possibly with no background in the medical sector?