If you are not vaccinated, there will be everyday things you will miss out on, the prime minister says.
A new Covid-19 response framework is being finalised and will be released on Friday, providing people with greater clarity, Jacinda Ardern said.
“It will become very clear to people that if you are not vaccinated there will be things that you miss out on, everyday things that you will miss out on,” Ardern told Morning Report.
“It’s about both rewarding people who have gone out and done the right thing but also keeping away people who are less safe.”
She said by the time the framework is ready to move to, the government is confident vaccine certificates will be ready.
It’s like an alert level system, she said.
“We’ve always said once we’re vaccinated it will be different, so we need to therefore design what that looks like.”
Ardern said the government is drawing some distinctions though, they don’t want an environment where people can’t access necessary goods and services to maintain their lives.
“We can’t say someone can’t get health services, medical needs, pharmacies, food.”
The government is supporting providers who are providing incentives for people to get vaccinated, she said.
“Anything that they identify will work for their community has our backing.”
Ardern said domestic travel is being looked at separately from the framework to be announced Friday, and work is being down to see if there is a way to safely allow movement.
“But that would have a number of checks around it – is there a way that we can use vaccine certificates but also acknowledge that even if you’re vaccinated it is still possible for you to have asymptotic Covid.”
The border is putting a lot of strain on Auckland the more time is it needed, she said.
“At the same time, the rest of New Zealand wants to remain… Covid free or be in the position to extinguish Covid cases as they arrive. So we’ve got to balance those two needs.”
Epidemiologist Rod Jackson told Morning Report the government needs to go hard on those who just haven’t yet got around to getting a vaccine – “With no jab, no job, no fun”.
The second group of people who aren’t vaccinated however, don’t trust the system, he said.
“And for those we have to find the people that they trust.
“The only game in town is to buy time until we get everyone vaccinated.”
The government has signalled a vaccination target will be part of the soon to be announced framework.
Jackson says if 95 percent of the population is vaccinated, there will be death, disease and hospitalisations for the last five percent.
“Those were the 5 percent who were the first to get Covid in Europe last year, those are where most of the deaths are, those are where most of the hospitalisations are…For the rest of us, we’re all going to get Covid again.
He said people don’t realise that.
“There’s two ways to get vaccinated. You either get vaccinated by the virus, and that’s brutal, one in 10 hospitalisations in this latest outbreak. If you get Covid after you’ve been vaccinated it will happen slowly because the vaccine is fantastic for dealing with severe disease but it only slows down infection.”
Slowing down infection is the key problem a vaccinated population faces, he said.
“Because Covid spreads so rapidly, even if the vaccine has reduced your risk of going to hospital from one in 10 to one in 100. That is still one in 100 of a lot of people if Covid is spreading rapidly.”
A flexible approach is needed, he said.
An Auckland emergency nurse says overworked nurses fear hospitals aren’t ready for the Covid-19 tsunami – and often think about quitting.
Hospital admissions have climbed to 43, and Middlemore Hospital expects to see 20 cases a day through its emergency department next month.
The nurse, who works in one of Auckland’s emergency departments (ED), said many of her colleagues finish shifts wondering if they would come back for the next one.
“The nurses are really, really feeling it – feeling really anxious. They feel like there’s a tsumani coming. They can see it coming … and what do they do? Do they run towards it or do they back off?”
Her own ED was often short by three or four nurses, or a couple of health care assistants, a shift, she said.
“On a daily basis we are getting texts to say, ‘can you pick up this shift?’. It is becoming a dire situation right now,” she said.
It was made worse because staff regularly needed to isolate because they were case contacts, she said.
The nurse, a delegate for the Nurses’ Organisation, said if they could not staff the shifts, it made for a high pressure day for those left behind, she said.
They tried to stay positive at work, she said.
“But when we go home we think back and we think ‘do I have to go in tomorrow? Do I have to face the same old issues I’ve been facing in the past month, past two months?’,” she said.
Several nurses had quit her ED in the past weeks and months, some of them senior, she said.
With already critical nationwide shortages, they were virtually irreplaceable.
The district health boards were doing their best but it was frustrating they had not done more earlier, she said.
She worried about where they would put Covid-19 patients if it the ED became too full as they could not go in the corridors like other patients sometimes had to.
“More nurses, more negative pressure rooms, more ICU beds … but that is all going to take time because we haven’t been prepared for this. We haven’t had the forethought for the future,” she said.
Her comments were backed by her union which said it was regularly hearing from stressed and worried nurses – and not just in Auckland.
Auckland and Waitemata DHBs declined to comment.
Waitemata was 100 nurses short across its hospitals earlier this year and had not been able to fill all those vacancies.
Counties Manukau Health’s director of hospital services Vanessa Thornton said Middlemore Hospital ED actually had fewer than a handful of nurse vacancies.
But it would have to rely on surge plans when more cases started to come through its doors.
It would bring nurses and health care assistants from other parts of the hospital but may also send them to help elsewhere if the emergency department was quiet, she said.
The hospital’s modelling showed there were likely to be 20 Covid-19 cases a day coming through the emergency department by next month, she said.
However that was just a best estimate and would be influenced by factors like vaccination rates, alert levels and how well people stuck to the rules, she said.
A tent has been set up at Middlemore’s ED and was being trialled this week for triaging patients for Covid-19.
Staff were well versed with dealing with Covid-19, with 113 presentations in the pandemic, a maximum of eight in one day, she said.
The government announced there would now be 300 places a month reserved for health workers in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ).
The nurse said that was great news but they were needed yesterday.