Should the Prime Minister be among the very first Kiwis to get vaccinated?
The question has come up because Scott Morrison over in Australia was among the first to get the jab yesterday.
Of course there were some who predictably questioned whether he’s jumping the queue, which is silly, but it presumably is the very reason that Jacinda Ardern hasn’t done exactly the same thing.
She has been asked about it and says she’s “torn”. She realises that getting a jab could help to send a message that the vaccine is safe, but she also says she wants the border workers to get the jab first.
And you can read between the lines: she’s worried it’s not a good look.
This is a no brainer and Ardern should be bumped right up to the front of the queue.
She won’t be displacing anyone on the frontline. We have enough Pfizer vaccine for 30,000 people, and given that we have 12000 border workers, there’s more than enough left over to spare one for the PM.
And it’s not as if she is taking one from someone who might otherwise die of Covid. That risk seems very low given we have a negligible level of Covid in the country.
The value of the prime minster getting the jab is massive. we’ve had a couple of surveys now showing there are quite high levels of vaccine hesitancy, with about 25 percent of us strongly opposed to taking the vaccine, and maybe as many as 22 percent not sure.
I’m sure many of those people will have their concerns assuaged by seeing Jacinda Ardern take the jab, simply because of the levels of trust people have in her and the leadership power she has right now. Arguably no one in the country has as much sway as she does currently.
This is exactly what happened with the polio jab back in 1956. There weren’t enough uptakes, polio was running rampant, and so health authorities in the states got Elvis on national TV taking a jab. That single event is credited with helping to lift jab rates from 0.6 to 80 percent in about six months.
We know that we need kiwis to get the jab in order to get to herd immunity in order to eventually open back up to the world.
At the current levels of hesitancy, we are at risk of not getting the required 70 percent uptake for herd immunity.
Anyone who objects to the idea of the PM getting an early jab would be petty. We have more to gain from the PM getting the jab early than we lose.
Heather du Plessis-Allan is a journalist and commentator who hosts Newstalk ZB's Drive show.
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