The government is really pushing the COVID vaccine at the moment, which is great to see. Wellington is getting a vaccine bus for the Hutt area, and the local MP, Ginny Andersen, is pushing for it to be called Jabba the Hutt.
What I’ve been particularly surprised to hear is that famously anti-medicine MP Maureen Pugh has had her first vaccine (opens new window). She’s held out for a long time, and I’m pretty sure she’s the last MP to have been vaccinated - which is not surprising given her prior form. In Maureen’s Maiden Statement to parliament back in 2016, she talked about how for the prior 25 years her only source of healthcare treatment was from her chiropractor. I guess either she’s walked back on her statement at the time that "nature delivers whatever we need", or the political pressure was too much and she received the vaccine despite her beliefs.
The vaccine mandate (opens new window) is going to be an interesting one to watch. Healthcare workers will need to be double vaccinated by the first of December, and teachers by the first of January next year. Any unvaccinated teacher between now and then will have to take a weekly COVID test. Of course, for both of these professions the mandate is not about the workers so much as it is about the people in their care - those who are at elevated risk. As Minister for COVID-19 Response Chris Hipkins said:
"We need the people who work with vulnerable communities who haven’t yet been vaccinated to take this extra step... People have a reasonable expectation that our work forces are taking all reasonable precautions to prevent the spread of disease"
And Jacinda Ardern has said (opens new window) it’s likely that music festivals will need to require attendees to prove they’ve been vaccinated as a condition of entry.
As a result of these new rules, I’ve already been hearing stories of "vaccine hesitant" people who are suddenly having to come to terms with the idea that they will either have to make a decision very soon to be vaccinated, or lose some of the things they care about such as their their favourite social event of the year or their livelihoods. I really hope these people manage to make their peace with this, and that they can decide to take the vaccine knowing that it’s not an "experimental jab", but rather is a marvel of modern technology, something that helps to train our own immune system to defend against COVID.
Unsurprisingly, many of the people who are pushing the anti-vaccine message stand to profit from their spreading of misinformation. Alternative medicine practitioners are selling their own nonsense ideas about boosting your natural immunity, groups like Voices for Freedom are selling you over-priced T-shirts and bags, and asking for donations, and members of fringe political groups like the Outdoors Party are hoping to secure your vote.