I see the PM is going to have her first Covid-19 jab by the end of this month. By my reckoning that makes her, technically at least, a queue-jumper.
To tell the truth, it doesn’t bother me that Jacinda Ardern will get her jab before me, although being over 65 I’m in Group 3 and therefore theoretically take priority over someone who’s aged 40 and in good health.
I’m in no rush, though that may change if there’s an outbreak of the virus. But the announcement that Ardern is in line to get her jab does highlight the shambolic nature of the vaccination programme and the glaring inconsistencies and discrepancies in the way the government has handled the pandemic.
From Day One, we have been fed porkies. I now refuse to believe a thing Ashley Bloomfield says, simply because of the number of times his glib assurances from the stage of the Beehive Theatrette have been contradicted by evidence of what’s actually happening on the front line. In our house he’s known as Fibber Bloomfield.
But in his defence, he could say he’s simply taking his cue from his political masters. Example: Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins was telling us as long as long ago as November that New Zealand would be "at the front of the queue" for vaccine. But here we are, seven months down the track, and our vaccination performance looks feeble compared with, say, Britain (68.4 million first doses given, 42 per cent of the population fully vaccinated) and the United States (303 million first doses given, 42.6 percent fully vaccinated).
Only two days ago, we learned that 21 per cent of Air New Zealand’s frontline employees still hadn’t received their jabs – a situation epidemiologist Michael Baker, a man not given to wild overstatement, described as “hugely concerning”.
Now Ardern herself is expressing relief that an extra 1 million vaccination doses are being delivered to New Zealand and admits that she was feeling “a little bit of anxiety” (or as she calls it, “anxiedy”). The obvious inference is that the supply is precarious. How does this square with Hipkins’ smug declaration in November? Perhaps he had his fingers crossed behind his back at the time.
The truth is that the vaccination programme has been almost comically inept. As the retired journalist David Barber wrote in a recent letter to the Dominion Post, those of us in Group 3 keep being told “Don’t call us, we’ll call you”. But in the meantime he keeps hearing stories about people jumping the gun and gaming the system.
I can confirm that. Twice on the same day last week, I was contacted by friends offering me a phone number that I could ring to make an appointment. Both have now had their first jab.
One of my informants was given the number in a café by someone he didn’t even know. Nudge nudge, pssst – it sounded like something out of Allo! Allo!.
The government keeps spending our money on full-page ads assuring us that someone will contact us when it’s our turn, but I don’t know anyone who’s had a call or an email from their medical centre or DHB.
This morning I heard general practitioners’ spokesman Bryan Betty complaining that people are still confused about when and where the vaccine will be available, so the medical professionals seem to be as much in the dark as the rest of us. Meanwhile the underground network is obviously buzzing.
I’m reminded of the old Soviet Union, where word would spread like wildfire when a fresh delivery of bread or potatoes arrived at the supermarket and people would run to join the queue. Perhaps the government has chosen the same the mode of delivery for the Pfizer rollout.