Sometimes, as when a rugby ball is spilt just before the try line, a goal nearly within grasp can distract from executing the immediate task at hand.
As daily Delta case numbers stubbornly refuse to subside, amid concerns over coronavirus fatigue in Auckland at level 3, some public debate is focusing on the future goal of easing some border restrictions.
The outbreak is not over, people's behaviour could be making it worse, and vaccination rates need to be much better. The current task is still to avoid slipping into New South Wales pandemic territory.
Most New Zealanders would want the vaccination rollout to achieve good coverage across all communities. Successful wide reopening appears contingent on achieving a very high rate of vaccination. That could take longer than hoped for.
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Understandable impatience is building in some quarters that a small percentage of Kiwis unwilling to get vaccinated could delay reopening for the rest. And there's the argument that the entire process could be accelerated anyway for the benefit of the economy.
Former Prime Minister John Key at the weekend called for financial incentives to help boost vaccination targets and suggested allowing only vaccinated people into licensed premises. He said the Government should reassure people that living with the virus is possible with vaccination.
Key added that the Government should set a date for reopening of the borders soon and allow home quarantine immediately. MIQ was inadequate as New Zealand's only quarantine response.
Some incentives are being used to encourage vaccination, but more could be needed. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern did say at the weekend that vaccination certificates for crowded events were being considered to control the virus and drive vaccination rates up.
Key's most interesting point was about home quarantine and "privately-run and purpose-built short-term MIQ facilities for workers and, in time, for tourists".
The present MIQ system has clearly been insufficient in scope to cater for the number of New Zealanders wanting to return.
It also highlights a contradiction in the Government's messaging over vaccination.
About 1.8 million - more than 42 per cent - of New Zealanders eligible for the vaccine have now had two jabs and are fully vaccinated.
If vaccines are people's personal armour, as Ardern says, there's no reason why normal travel for people who have that protection couldn't actually be introduced now, if bolstered with testing, home isolation and some form of compliance monitoring. The Government is instead opting for a trial of such a system later in the year.
A two-track system of allowing some outward travel for Kiwis while maintaining other restrictions as vaccination continues would seem a feasible option if the rollout stalls.
However, a Talbot Mills Research poll shows that nearly two thirds of respondents strongly favour keeping the border closed until at least 90 per cent of people are vaccinated.
That compared to 26 per cent support for opening the borders after everybody had been given a reasonable chance to get their jabs, regardless of the overall rate.
A Research New Zealand poll found that 79 per cent of respondents thought that only vaccine passport holders with a negative test should be allowed in.
While 70 per cent supported lockdowns, 47 per cent backed the measure only until vaccination targets have been reached. Nineteen per cent were against lockdowns, but wanted other precautions such as mask-wearing, testing and quarantine.
Obviously, preparation for reopening is important, but so is keeping our eye on the ball of squashing this outbreak - and people getting shots.