by Guy Hatchard

Yesterday our local rag carried a full page advertisement from Te Whatu Ora “5 important reasons to get your covid-19 booster”. It is gratifying to know that someone still has the money to look out for our interests, keeping us up-to-date and safe.

It is surprising what you can learn if you keep your eyes and ears open. Coincidentally, I was standing in the bread line at the Beehive yesterday when I ended up next to the copywriter who was spooning an extra ladle of gravy onto their plate of meat and two veg. This person (you have to avoid outdated pronouns like ‘he’ or ‘she’ these days, instead use ‘ze’) seemed to want to talk so I just listened sympathetically. I thought you might want to know the gist of what ze said:

Apparently, it is an uphill battle writing Covid copy. Take Point 3 of the advert “Boosters can provide stronger immunity than the natural immunity you get after having covid-19”. There was that difficult article in the Lancet last month analysing the results of 65 studies which according to the Wall Street Journal purported to show that the protection offered by natural immunity exceeds the protection offered by two or even three mRNA doses (that can’t be right). Luckily no one in New Zealand reads the WSJ, but even if they did, our public is getting used to following orders and learning to go with ‘the science’.

Point 2 “Boosters help protect you from getting very sick from covid-19 ending up in hospital, and even death” was a little tricky. It is always useful to play the death card, but there is a lot of it around these days. More than ever before, apparently. Again, it is lucky that no one knows why. Let’s keep it that way I say, and the boffins down at Te Whatu Ora agree with me. When in doubt, leave it out.

Point 1 “Your immunity from covid-19 reduces over time so keeping up-to-date with your boosters provides an extra layer of protection”. Another tricky point, we didn’t want to put this out there, but unfortunately, it seems that almost everyone knows by now that vaccination and Covid go together like pizza and chips. We have bought all these boosters from those people at Pfizer and something has to be done with them. We’re a zero waste economy. It’s like dealing with your cocaine dealer, you have to keep them onside. Pfizer has assured us these new boosters work very well, they do something for 3 or 4 weeks (no one knows quite what) but then they run out. One thing leads to another. So you have to get another one and unfortunately they do cost a lot (like everything going up in price too). It all helps to keep the economy going.

Points 4 and 5 were the easy ones. A lot of warm fuzzy stuff about spending time with friends and whanau and going on holiday. I do like those overseas trips where you can talk to other people in the same fix and share cover stories. There was that German Health Minister the other day who broke the story gently, admitting that mRNA vaccines can kill a small (??) number of people even though they are really good. It was alright for him, because he wasn’t in power when they were approved and mandated. So, unfortunately, it wouldn’t work here of course. If we were to admit that we made any mistakes, it might endanger all those genuinely helpful policies like three waters (I know about tap water and the sea, but I’m not sure what the third one is), the right to free speech (I’d do anything to protect mine but I’m not sure there is enough space for everyone), or the option to ride a bicycle to ED if you are ill or pregnant (especially if you have an old car).