Growing divide between vaccinated and unvaccinated

April 2024

People need to fight the Covid virus, not each other, the general manager of SociaLink, the Western Bay’s umbrella social agency says.

Liz Davies says there’s a growing divide between those who have had their Covid-19 vaccination and those who haven’t.

“Facing the challenge of a disease is sorely testing all of us as we grapple with uncertainty and hardship, which is likely to go on for some time. It would be a huge shame if the ‘divide’ becomes an unbridgeable gap within families, friends, workplaces and communities.”

She said there are already enough painful ‘gaps’ in wealth, racism, housing affordability and health inequities, and having to respond to Covid-19 is making these worse.

“Vaccination provides the best protection from the worst symptoms and illness it can cause to individuals and their whānau.

“However, there are so many understandable reasons that are driving both ‘sides’ of the vaccination divide. Many, many people are suffering financially and/or emotionally as a result of lockdown restrictions, wanting to get back to ‘normal’ or to the ‘green light’.”

There are children and young people unable or reluctant to go to school, or who have left school because they now need to work, often because a parent or parents lost their jobs due to lockdowns, she said.

“Most, if not all, people are fearful of catching Covid, tiring of restrictions on events, wearing masks etc.

“The simple equation is the more who are vaccinated, the sooner we can get to something approaching ‘normality’. It is understandable that people can get frustrated or angry at those people who might not yet be sure about vaccination or are choosing to not be.

“Some believe those who do not vaccinate are selfish, are not in the ‘team of five million’ and are wilfully risking the health of everyone else. But the ‘us’ and ‘them’ disparagement is not helpful.

“Soon, the lives of the unvaccinated are going to get very small. Many will struggle to work if they are expected to be vaccinated and I suspect there will be few jobs that will not require proof of vaccination’” Liz Davies said.

“People need to have sufficient knowledge and skills to take up the vaccine, sufficient encouragement, support and access, and sufficient motivation – desire to have it, overcoming fear of risks or fear of needles – to do it.

“We need to keep making it as easy as possible for people to vaccinate, a core principle of all good health promotion efforts,” she said.

“While the desire to get people vaccinated is completely understandable, getting angry is wasted energy. Let’s fight the virus, not each other.”