By Kerrie Subritzky
Did any of us really think we would still be in lockdown in November, when it was announced on August 17th that Delta had arrived?
Our tiny nation’s success in managing to contain Covid-19 when it first arrived on our shores in March 2020, then eventually resuming relatively normal daily lives a couple of months later, put us in a unique position globally. We watched news reports with a mixture of sadness and relief as around the world countries endured lengthy lockdowns while trying to contain horrifically high infection rates and death tolls.
Then suddenly Delta arrived in New Zealand and life as we knew it changed completely. Many, like myself, may have assumed that this outbreak would be contained much like the last one was, but that hasn’t been the case. We have been told that this strain of the virus is significantly ‘trickier’ than its predecessors, as though it has a personality, mind, and agenda of its own. Perhaps referring to the virus in this way helps us to visualise our collective fight against it; to be sure, identifying the virus as the enemy and not our fellow humans is the right way to look at it.
It’s important to remember who and what our enemy is. Unfortunately, we are becoming more polarised and divided over the issue, and at the end of covid there will be wounds that will have to be healed as a community. But we were a community before this virus, and we will be again.
It’s normal to feel helpless in the face of an enforced lockdown; people report feeling insignificant, more fearful, that their lives have become smaller, and that they do and say things that are out of character.
But we are not without some ability to fight back against this disease. We have a weapon, the ability to take our lives back and experience freedom, and that weapon is vaccination.
I was vaccine hesitant for months, I had read some stuff from well-meaning friends and that created doubt. I eventually did my own research and settled the doubts in my mind. Even then, I still felt sick with nerves as I drove to the vaccination station near the airport.
I needn’t have worried; I was and am fine after two doses, as are millions and millions of other people. Not so fine are people who are struggling to breathe as the virus attacks their bodies, the people with “long Covid” who are not sure they will ever feel normal again, and of course, those who have lost their lives.
It is predicted by some experts that things will get worse over the next 12 months before they get better. The vaccine is not a guarantee, but it does give us a fighting chance.
I got vaccinated because I want to get my life back, and I want our country to move on from being the “smug hermit kingdom” that one former politician so succinctly labelled it. I’m looking forward to reconnecting with the world and bringing New Zealanders home.