INVERCARGILL city councillor Marcus Lush has urged his council to make a push on vaccination as he thinks the Covid-19 pandemic is the “most serious preventable disaster” the region has faced.
During an Invercargill City Council (ICC) meeting on Tuesday, Cr Lush spoke of his concerns about the impact the virus could have in Southland.
At this stage, the message from the ICC on the matter was “almost invisible”, he said.
Cr Lush asked to discuss how the council could help to raise the number of vaccinations in the city as he feared it could end up with a percentage in the 80s.
He believed there was complacency in the region.
“I think we are looking at a situation where it could really unfold badly.
“We need to look to creative ways that we can get people to go and get their vaccines and the thing is that it needs to be quite soon. I think a fortnight, three weeks, a month it could be too late.”
Councillors got behind Cr Lush’s comments.
Cr Darren Ludlow suggested they could tackle the issue in three levels to bring the matter to the Southland mayoral forum for a collective approach, to use the ICC’s communications channels to get the message through and for each councillor to look at opportunities to encourage people towards the vaccination.
“The inevitability of [Covid-19] arriving in our community is very solid… I would be surprised if we didn’t have cases here before Christmas.
Deputy mayor Nobby Clark said it was scary to think that even if Southland got to a 90% vaccination rate, it would still have about 24,000 people unvaccinated, taking into consideration the number of people in the region.
If only 1% of “unprotected” people was affected by Covid-19, the hospitals would not cope, he said.
He believed ICC should follow the example of other councils, which had used music and entertainment to encourage younger people [18-29 age group] to be vaccinated as they were one of the most risky age groups.
“That group is quite blase about it all… and that is the people we need to get to.”
He proposed a workshop to have further discussion about the matter.