OPINION: The science is clear, we need to get as many people fully vaccinated as possible – at least 90 per cent of those eligible.
But as columnist Sam Stubbs said in an opinion piece on Stuff, there seems to be a stubborn 20 per cent who don’t know, listen, or care. Do we need different ways to motivate them such as cash incentives?
An MP from each side of the house gives their views.
Arena Williams, Labour MP Manurewa
For me there’s no greater incentive to get vaccinated than knowing it’ll help to keep my whānau safe. I want the young and old in my life to be able to enjoy this place we call home without fear of severe illness.
There’s a range of reasons people may choose to get vaccinated or not. Research shows the majority of people yet to be vaccinated aren’t dead set against it – they just have some questions or want to wait.
To reach these people we need to share our reasons for getting vaccinated, be prepared to answer any questions they might have and point them in the direction of reliable information, make vaccination convenient, and appeal to specific groups.
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The Government has told health providers to do whatever works in their communities to get locals vaccinated. For some that will mean going door to door, for others it’ll mean offering food parcels.
Providers on the ground are best placed to decide what incentives might work for their people. The Government will support them to explore these options. We’re pulling out all the stops to get vaccination rates up – it’s never been more urgent.
Businesses are also playing an important role, with many offering staff time off and extra pay or vouchers for getting vaccinated.
Our strategy of keeping Covid-19 out of our communities and vigorously pursuing cases that do emerge has served us well, but new challenges like Delta have made it harder.
Getting back to zero cases of Covid-19 in the community will be tough, but we’ll continue with that aim for now – because keeping case numbers low remains the best approach until more New Zealanders are protected.
We can’t keep using strict lockdowns, so it’s in everyone’s interest to get vaccinated as we start transitioning into the next phase of our Covid-19 response. A highly vaccinated population gives us all more options.
New Zealanders have consistently stepped up as part of the team of five million to help us tackle the challenge of Covid-19. We need to channel that energy into a big final push to get New Zealanders vaccinated.
We can be one of the most highly vaccinated countries in the world – but it’ll require a collective effort. My message to vaccinated New Zealanders is this: your job is not yet done. Vaccines are our ticket to freedom. Let’s make sure all our whānau are on that journey.
Stuart Smith, National MP Kaikōura
It has become abundantly clear that the only way to stop lockdowns and effectively and safely open up New Zealand to the rest of the world, is to have as many people as possible vaccinated.
It is a shame that we find ourselves in this position though, as it could have been avoided if we had a Government who was proactive about procuring vaccines rather than the lack-lustre approach that we saw earlier this year.
That being said, New Zealanders, by in large, have done their best through lockdowns and all the pressures that come with them. But for those who are yet to get their vaccination, it is important that we are all aware that, Covid-19 will inevitably spread to every part of this country. If you are not vaccinated, statistics show that you are putting yourself, your family, your friends and your community at a greater risk.
Just three percent of the all current positive cases in New Zealand are fully vaccinated.
National released our ‘Opening Up’ plan two weeks ago, and throughout the report it talks about ways to incentivise people to get vaccinated. One idea is to commission behavioural scientists to draw upon the best available evidence about what incentives have worked and are working in other jurisdictions, and then quickly invest in a variety of incentive programmes.
These incentives can be as simple as setting up a bacon butty station or a kebab caravan next to a vaccination clinic and tell anyone who gets vaccinated they can get a free dinner. The cost to the Government of a few hundred bacon butties or kebabs is nowhere near the $1 billion losses we are currently bleeding per week by having a lockdown.
A business in my electorate, Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa is offering staff the chance to win $1,000 if they get vaccinated. The Government can also come to the party on this and help businesses out to incentivise their staff.
The Super Saturday initiative on 16 October is one that any New Zealander who is not vaccinated should get on board with. Fundamentally it is your right to choose to be vaccinated or not, but in doing so, you’re helping other New Zealanders to not only keep the virus at bay, but to open up our economy and maintain the Kiwi way of life we all know and love.