Today, I’m placing my trust in our country’s leader and her government.
I’m apprehensive because while I've been strongly supportive of the covid response since the outbreak, the last couple of months have tested my political resolve.
The to and fro at the daily press conferences, the seemingly last-minute decisions to drop the elimination strategy, to focus on vaccination numbers instead of new cases, etc have left me with a bitter taste in my mouth. I’ve been doing this job a long time and can see the political spin machine in motion.
But today, I’m sending my unvaccinated 10-year-old son back to Ormiston Primary School in Auckland. It’ll be his first day back in a school environment after nearly three months.
Although I’m doing my bit and following the health advice, I’m also scared. To be honest so is my son.
New covid case numbers and hospitalisations are reaching new records almost every other day, the number of covid deaths is slowly creeping up, and the virus’s tentacles are reaching into every part of the North Island.
Yet, despite all this, our children, some of the most vulnerable in our community, are being sent back to school.
I’m nervous and you should be too.
While I understand my son can remain at home until the start of next term, I prefer that he returns to school where he’ll receive better learning and more social interaction with his teachers and friends. This will also be ideal for parents who need to return to their places of work soon.
I don’t relish the idea of him staying at home for another few months given that he can return “safely”. So yes, the director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield and the minister of education Chris Hipkins along with the prime minister have promised our children would be safe.
A question of trust
I hope to God they are right. Trust is a two-way street, and I’ve now placed my trust in them to know what they’re doing – for both our sakes and the plethora of other parents and children in a similar situation.
Personally, it made more sense to me and those in my circle that children under 12 and who can’t be vaccinated yet stay away from schools until the start of next term when they have had the opportunity to be vaccinated. But we don’t as yet know if and when that will happen, and if it does, how long it will take to be fully rolled out.
The summer holidays are a month away. Christmas is around the corner. Families will be leaving their homes to go on holiday if they’re allowed to, and we all know January is usually a slow month to get anything done.
So, while I’m not sure when our children will be vaccinated, I know it must be done.
According to media reports, about 20% of this latest outbreak’s cases have occurred in children younger than 12. That’s a big part of our population that’s unvaccinated and they will be returning to school today.
And yes, I understand getting the virus might be inevitable, but I don’t want to risk my son getting it if I don’t have to.
I read about Duncan Garner’s 11-year-old son who tested positive and while I don’t know the circumstances, he has the virus now as well.
That is one of the things I’m most concerned about: the virus spreading among hundreds of unvaccinated children who then infect their loved ones at home – those who are vaccinated or not. On Tuesday, we had 222 new cases of covid-19 and another death at Auckland City Hospital.
We all know that being vaccinated is anything but a silver bullet against covid, it helps protect you, but it doesn’t make you invincible. The world has changed, and we’re trapped in a vicious circle of endless lockdowns and viral mutations.
But we also need to learn to move on. I’m choosing to trust that my son will be safe returning to school. I hope I’m right.