I don’t expect to get signed emails from readers that frustrated and upset while being thoughtful and humane. I sought permission to reprint the whole exchange, and here it is:
Apologies for using this email but i wanted to send you a note as an Auckland resident who has been in lockdown this time for another 3-4 months and double vaccinated with a science background who saw your recent worries re: Aucklanders bringing Covid north.
Possible you were misquoted but it appears to us in Auckland you are advocating we remain locked up and not able to work forever to make up for some peoples tardiness or ignorance regarding vaccination?
Could I politely point out some areas you surely are aware of:
We have done all that was asked of us in Auckland plus, to be frank, its government stupidity they put all the hotels in Auckland, and failed to properly protect many coming of our MIQ system. In short we are a filter for all NZ and should not have been, its not our fault Covid is in Auckland only. People all over NZ have surely not been living under rocks? We knew what was happening and that it would and will come here, it cannot be stopped and despite our childish government it was never going to be stopped.
We are not responsible for poor vaccine purchase and rollout, or vaccine passes, etc.
I have been unable to work and been locked down for months in part because some of your residents don’t seem to take up a very, very simple challenge and get vaccinated. I realise that some people may be in more difficult situations than others but really…. They have had loads of time to get vaccinated (I do appreciate the medical issues with some and I have sympathy there but that’s not the majority).
Some of your residents have been leading normal lives while we go bankrupt here and have our freedom curtailed – there is (excuse my language) a bloody limit to human patience. We are not charging north giving people Covid but people have had a chance to get vaccinated – enough time has passed. People have been unable to get home to all sorts of tragedies in part because these people wont get jabbed. Its also fair to say that many people are ‘vulnerable’ due to lifestyle decisions – I sympathise about the reasons but some people seem not to realise about their health decisions over many years. I am aware that some simply don’t know about such things but at what point am I responsible for my own choices?
In short Dr I know you will be aware of our situation here in Auckland. The anger here is at boiling point. We don’t mind taking some stick and have put up with incredible hardship and removal of basic freedoms while many others carry on their lives by not getting on and getting vaccinated. In short we feel enough time has passed, being help to ransom in perpetuity is not on and I would ask you to simply accept that other people also have a right to not go crazy or bankrupt because of a very few people’s choices.
I wish you all the best with the difficult situation ahead.
(Name withheld from publication at request.)
It’s a great letter you wrote. I understand your situation. Can I have permission to reprint it in my website? I’ll put a longer answer online, but agree with a lot of what you say, and would have made vaccination mandatory long ago, when we first knew it was safe, saved lives, and would have allowed us out of level 3 much sooner.
I have no time for the willfully stupid folks using this moment for political wins using antivax as a weapon.
But I also know there are poor folks up here in Northland with awful educational experiences, Facebook or word-of-mouth misinfomation their only source, and fear they will hurt their baby by getting a vaccine that may in fact save their baby’s life.
They don’t have easy access to any GPs around them, and when they drive to where one is, they have a debt with the GP that has to get paid. Unlike you or I, they would never go to a GP to have their health questions answered, the money isn’t there. Minimum wage doesn’t let a family live above poverty level, especially with Northland rents being what they are.
There are more vax clinics (with better hours) within walking distance in one Auckland suburb than in whole swathes of the mid-North. 40% of New Zealanders are functionally illiterate, and plenty of people don’t have enough petrol money for extra trips into town: it has to be convenient and timed right. We can offer alcohol sales in almost every village and town in Northland like clockwork, but can’t do the same for vaccination. There are towns that have lost their GP services completely. Health professionals, in general, don’t flock to work in impoverished towns like Kaeo. Moerewa, Kaikohe. Yet these are the places than need medical care the most. Residents have put up with a lifetime of just sucking it up and dealing with it, and for Covid it’s no different. Not making excuses for people to not get vaccinated, just acknowledging it’s a hell of a lot easier for me to get vaxxed than them.
I haven’t read what 500 words the Herald wrote yet, based on a 30 minute interview, but this problem needs aggressive prompt action… so they can get vaxxed and you can get on with your work and life.
Mandatory vax, and huge rollout to Maori patients by Maori vaccinators in Maori community venues. If we can get liquor stores and meth delivery into every village in NZ, we can get a vaccinator down every street.
Thank you for your reply. I appreciate your decency with the reply and the respectful exchange of views. I suspect if you and I were in Parliament we could have a decent argument but make substantial progress for many people that we both represent and put aside our minor differences. If you delete my name from the letter and forgive the big finger typing errors yes feel free to publish.
On your response, I agree with almost all of your points. In fact I suspect we have so much to agree on there is little to split hairs on apart from the issue of personal responsibility and perhaps my belief that parts of the Maori people are not standing up in that area. I blame nobody for my poverty as a child or the abuse suffered, I drive myself forward to accept others experiences and yet I continue to educate myself and try to do the right thing. I guess humans can respond differently to the same circumstances?
I look forward to continuing this debate as a sensible NZ citizen and holding incompetent Politicians to account – we both agree this should have been dealt with a year ago. I probably don’t mirror all your views but I certainly accept that these communities require a different, smaller scale but intensely local flavour as part of a successful vaccination campaign.
That’s it. Social media is a shitshow, and a circus making 29 billion dollars a year for Facebook (who pay zero dollars in NZ taxes) while destabilising democracy, damaging society and hurting public health. But every few years, it leads me to partake in a germane and reasonable conversation with someone.
I think most people just want the thing fixed, and gotten on with, with individual and social responsibilities met. But most of all with results that don’t have us hobbled, and groups left vulnerable, all at the same time. As is currently the case.
Hopefully we’ll move towards maximal responsibility of the individual towards the society, and maximal responsibility from the government towards the individual. Governments are not here to make more profits for the wealthy, they are here to serve the needs of society. The needs of people. Things like safety, health, and education.
Mandated vaccination -and- massive outreach to communities, are what will get us to a place of increased safety. Partial vaccination works not much better than partially effective birth control. If we are serious about this thing, we will address it aggressively, and get on with living safely.
“If a community in New Zealand is large enough to have a liquor shop (not to mention door-to-door meth delivery), it’s large enough to have a nurse practitioner, a mental health counselor, and a dental therapist.”
-Dr Gary Payinda