Federated Farmers is calling on farmers and growers to remember the critical link between vaccination rates and maintaining growth in the New Zealand economy.
Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard says Feds has taken a little bit of stick from a handful of members about the organsiation’s promotion of the need for as many people as possible to get vaccinated.
“We got told to ‘stay in our lane’ and to stop pushing the government’s agenda. But let’s be clear this isn’t about the government agenda, all political parties are encouraging people to get vaccinated. This isn’t a political issue, it’s a health issue.
“Getting vaccinated will not make you a communist.”
Feds is an organisation that prides itself on sticking to the facts and relying on good science for good outcomes.
“People will point out those who are vaccinated are still getting COVID-19, but the clear data from here and overseas shows your risk of getting it is much reduced and if you do get it, your risk of getting seriously ill is reduced even further, by about 95% according to our Ministry of Health.”
Andrew says the time lost to the illness would be a huge strain on a farm.
“We have seen those who have ended up hospital spend weeks and in cases months in there. Can your farm cope without you for that long?
“Plus, if you managed to catch it, there is a high risk your staff and other family members might have it as well. Who is looking after the farm then?
“This is a simple risk that can be avoided.”
Andrew is also concerned that farmers and growers recognise the impact continued lockdowns are having on urban businesses.
“These are small business owners who bleed and sweat for their businesses just like farmers and growers and they are being told they can’t reopen until we get to some undefined vaccination level.
“Feds wants the government to step up and provide some targets, and a plan to provide them with certainty. But we can do our part and ensure national vaccination rates are as high as possible which will help them get back to business.”
Andrew says Feds is particularly keen to see the national vaccination levels rise to a point where we can ease restrictions on bringing people in from overseas, when they are able to prove they are COVID-19 free and have been vaccinated.
“We are so desperate for staff, but then, so is everyone else. There’s only one way to fix everyone’s staff shortages, and that is to bring people from overseas.”
Andrew’s own reasons for getting vaccinated, like most people, are around doing the right thing for his family.
“For me the main reason I had for getting vaccinated was that I had an immune compromised daughter, who for close on nine years has been unable to be vaccinated against a variety of things due to the medication she was on, yet if she caught any of these things which many people would consider trivial, she would have been hit for six.
“Now thankfully she is off all medication and has been able to get her vaccinations including COVID, but the stress of worrying for the last nine years whenever some kid at school gets chickenpox has stuck with me.
“I know there will be other parents out there with at-risk children who can’t get vaccinated. So, I can help them by getting the jab myself, and lowering the risk of this virus circulating.”
Feds has been working with industry partners and the Ministry of Health to develop guidance on what will be able to happen on farm, if someone gets COVID (see page 30).
The organisation is also helping to promote the various activities going on up and down the country to ensure the vaccination process is simple and easy for busy rural people to access.