Stewart Forsyth: Team Auckland versus Team Rest of New Zealand in vaccine race


You might have noticed that there are two teams now.Team Auckland is locked down until it solves the last mystery case.The rest of the country is urging Team Auckland on – so they get to drop further down the levels.

And we’re all locked into New Zealand until we get vaccination rates much higher.

After big rugby matches, the experts rate our rugby players, and of course, the scoreline tells us how the team went. How is New Zealand doing in the most important game right now? Is your average Kiwi that passionate about how the vaccination rate is going?Probably as passionate as we are about the Warriors right?Pity about the scoreline, but, whatever (sorry Warriors fans).

Is getting more people vaccinated important?Then let’s make the vaccination rate matter.We now have two teams – let’s have a competition.This Government is scared of setting targets – it doesn’t want to miss another one.So let’s set a target for them.The evidence around setting goals is that it’s important to go high – a scary goal helps to focus on the important things.Let’s go for a goal that will make it into the international newsfeed.

Kiwis would love to hear about it on al Jazeera, the BBC, Fox News.After all – in the new normal – the rich tourists and super-skilled migrants we want to flock here are going to be more impressed by a 90 per cent vaccination rate than the quality of our sauvignon blanc.

Emma Russell reported (NZ Herald, September 11) on the vaccination rankings of the 20 DHBs. League tables like this need to be given more attention than NPC tables (temporarily). It needs to be a matter of pride that Nelson-Marlborough is leading at 42 per cent and consternation that Taranaki is lagging at the bottom of the table at 24 per cent.

In working with organisations, the way to lift overall performance is to help the underperforming teams lift their game. There is a lot more headroom for improvement here than in eking out improvements from the already high-performing teams. Leaders on the league table could likely provide some clues to the laggers.

There is an issue with goals, such as aiming for a very high level of vaccination – the unintended consequence of other stuff falling off the agenda. What if our DHBs dropped the ball while they chase high vaccination rates? Vaccination is important for keeping people out of hospitals. You can get Covid-19 even if you are vaccinated, but you are less likely to end up in ICU. Or die.

By pushing hard on vaccinations the DHB managers are ensuring that their hospitals can meet health goals across their scorecard without having to triage health services.

We have some indication of where the effort should be going.

This pandemic has taught us the importance of community-based public health.The bureaucrats running our health services need to run with that – the way to get healthy behaviours is clearly to engage with communities – such as churches and workplaces.

Our media have done an excellent job of highlighting the missteps of the vaccination programme and celebrating the marvellous initiatives undertaken to get people into the drive-through and other vaccination centres.It is time to bring that emphasis into our workplaces, churches and networks.A show of hands in the RSA after 6pm – “who’s fully vaccinated already?” Similarly, in workplaces and churches. At the morning toolbox meeting, after the sermon.

Humans want to belong, so we need to use that inclination for a positive end here – getting as many people as possible vaccinated.

It might seem heavy-handed, but people need the guidance of knowing what the norm for healthy action is.

By focusing on this goal we might create an opportunity for our opposition parties to get some publicity to compete with the 1pm standup.

Judith Collins could use her skills in roasting misbehaviour to target leaders who are betraying the health of their followers.Our opposition politicians have done a great job of chivvying the Government about slip-ups in MIQ and vaccine supply.Lets’s see them getting stuck into the misinformed and deluded anti-vaxxers.

Right now Auckland leads by 34.1 per cent to 33.8 per cent.Go Team Auckland.

• Stewart Forsyth is an organisational psychologist, executive coach and author of 21 Remarkable People – available from Amazon or Apple or other eBook sources.

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