Time and again during this pandemic, we've heard how officials are "working on a process" to fulfil what is an obvious and immediate need.
This week, we heard the same from Craig Carr, New Zealand chair of the Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Society. "We're working through a process of making sure that all our frontline staff are vaccinated."
Sure, it's not the society's responsibility to ensure all frontline ICU staff are vaccinated. That should be on district health boards (DHBs), on clear advice from the Ministry of Health.
Carr was responding to the revelation that a requirement for DHBs to know the vaccination status of staff who could come into contact with Covid-19 appears to have been abandoned.
This is despite a guidance document issued to district health boards in June which stated all Covid-19 stream work should be undertaken by vaccinated staff.
The DHBs have said the situation is moot with a mandate since issued for all healthcare workers to have received their first dose of the vaccine by November 15.
However, no sooner had the DHBs been finally cornered on their lack of assurance on the vaccination of frontline staff, it was confirmed three staff members on a ward for the care of Covid-19 patients at North Shore Hospital tested positive for the virus. All three were double-vaccinated, but we still have no such information on the frontline staff who may have admitted the infected patient.
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Many staff in our healthcare system have responded admirably to the challenges of the Covid pandemic but they, and us, have been let down by a bureaucracy which has translated the credo of "first, do no harm" to first, do nothing.
We have no reason not to believe most staff in Covid-facing roles would be well-informed enough to be vaccinated but it seems peculiar no one thought to record this until the media began asking. By then, it was deemed too difficult or somehow irrelevant.
University of Otago epidemiologist Nick Wilson said DHBs being unaware of vaccination levels among staff who could interact with the virus poses significant risk. "It seems highly problematic that the DHBs don't know this because then they can't reassure the public," he said.
Auckland and the rest of New Zealand has repeatedly been told it must endure lockdowns to protect our healthcare system from being overwhelmed. By the same token, district health boards owe themselves and this country by being fully vaccinated - and transparently so. Those facing Covid-19 cases should have been confirmed and documented as such as soon as the vaccine was approved.
It shouldn't need to be said but apparently it does. Vaccination of frontline health staff is essential.
Contrary to widespread belief, the phrase "first, do no harm" is not part of the Hippocratic Oath. It is taken from another of the ancient Greek physician's works called "Of The Epidemics".
Perhaps our district health boards could go back and re-read all the advice.