I would like to firstly take this opportunity to wish everyone a very a Happy New Year.
I hope you all had the opportunity to spend time with your families and friends and some time to relax over the summer period. The weather has been amazing and I’m just so grateful to live in this beautiful city.
We stayed at home over Christmas and New Year because, as I say to people, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
I also hope that our local businesses, cafes and restaurants have had a profitable summer period with the increase in visitors to our region.
My thoughts this week have been with our Tongan neighbours and their family and friends here in Tauranga and across New Zealand, after the devastating volcanic eruption and subsequent tsunami which hit the small island nation.
To everyone in our Pasifika community, our thoughts and support are with you. As our government moved swiftly to support Tonga, it was a reminder of the special relationship New Zealand has with our Pacific neighbours.
Did you know that in our moment of need in 2010, in the wake of the Christchurch earthquakes, that Tonga, one of the Pacific’s poorest nations, raised a massive NZ$705,000 for the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal in a single Saturday radio-thon! Just incredible.
While we are enjoying our brilliant summer and enjoying our freedom with low numbers of Covid cases in the community at present, the news from overseas about the extremely rapid spread of the Omicron variant is very concerning, and a stark reminder that we must remain vigilant.
It has been reassuring to see people following the rules, wearing masks, scanning in and presenting their vaccine passes when required. Everyone’s hard work is so appreciated. Our vaccination programme continues at pace with booster shots available and, from last Monday, children aged five-to-11 are able to be immunised against Covid.
The Covid-19 vaccine used for children has a lower dose and smaller volume than the adult vaccine and is administered using a smaller needle. To be fully immunised against Covid-19 a child needs to get two doses of the vaccine, usually given at least eight weeks apart.
Getting vaccinated now is a great way to help protect tamariki before they go back to school. While children may have milder symptoms, some will still get very sick and end up in hospital if they do get Covid-19.
Getting vaccinated also helps to prevent them from passing it on to more vulnerable members of the whānau, like babies and elderly family members. This is a parent’s choice, and it’s important to get the information you need to make that choice.
Parents who have questions about the paediatric vaccine should seek further information from their health professional, or from Unite Against Covid-19. They can also talk to a trained advisor on the Covid Vaccination Healthline: 0800 28 29 26.
It is not a question of if, but when Omicron makes its way into our communities and we must be as well prepared and protected as we possibly can be.