On Sunday I reached a personal milestone, getting my second vaccination at the drop-in clinic at Whangārei's Sikh Temple. I was surprised how emotional it was: Just that simple act felt like I was playing my part in getting our town protected and our country back on the road.
Lately, people have been asked to "tell us your why" and for me it's that simple: Especially now that I'm starting travelling to Wellington again, my biggest fear is always bringing the virus home.
Vaccination doesn't make you immune but it drastically reduces your chances of becoming infected with Covid or passing it on – as well as hugely reducing the chances of needing hospital treatment if you do get it, and taking up beds that are badly needed for surgeries or cancer treatments.
That's why overseas it's now being called the "pandemic of the unvaccinated", because overwhelmingly that's who is ending up in hospital or dying.
That is also why a high vaccination rate is key to re-opening our country. Our priority is still catching cases at the border but we also need to ensure that our hospitals and public health system are well equipped and able to care for cases if and when they arise.
I work daily with whānau struggling with separation from loved ones and also with businesses negotiating the alert levels. The sooner we can get ourselves vaccinated, the sooner we can start to ease the restrictions.
No one has a crystal ball, but modelling commissioned by the Government from the research centre Te Punaha Matatini suggests that with high rates of vaccinations we can move to a much less restrictive response to virus outbreaks.
We will still need some public health measures, but (provided the vaccines remain as effective against variants as they have so far) we will be able to move to less disruptive measures, for instance away from level 4 where we isolate everyone, to only isolating those who have Covid.
We are making significant progress, with more than five million doses of Pfizer having now been administered in New Zealand. The figures will get even higher, but we need to keep working.
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While we do, we've also launched a new MIQ booking "lobby" to make the system fairer, with people joining a virtual queue within a given time period, each passport-holder getting one slot in the queue only, and then randomising room allocation.
As always, if people need to travel urgently, they can apply for an emergency allocation.
Demand still far outstrips supply, but arrivals must occur in a safe, managed way and there isn't an unlimited number of MIQ rooms. Last week, 5364 people from 117 countries secured MIQ vouchers – that's 3205 rooms.
At its peak there were 31,800 people in the queue. If you missed out there are still several thousand vouchers available through to the end of the year, with another release this week.
We're also planning for a less restrictive entry process for when vaccinations are higher, beginning a small pilot of at-home self-isolation for Kiwi business travellers later this year, and a trial run of quarantine-free travel for some RSE workers from Vanuatu from early October.
No one can predict the future, but the science says our best bet is vaccination. Please join me and the millions of Kiwis doing our bit to get us rolling again.
• Emily Henderson is the electorate MP for Whangārei. She can be contacted at Emily.HendersonMP@parliament.govt.nz .