Better Health South – February 2022 Board Update
We’re ready for Omicron, which will likely have started spreading across Otago and Southland by the time you read this.
Being prepared is not the same as planning and preventing everything. People will get sick, go to hospital or die. Omicron will surprise us in many ways; it will make for a memorable fall.
Being prepared means planning and preparing carefully. The whole local health system did. Hospitals have, medical centers have and pharmacies have. The same goes for kaupapa Māori services and community services. And the same goes for government agencies in addition to the healthcare system. As Omicron progresses, he will test this planning and preparation, and he will find many imperfections.
Omicron is so contagious that soon it will make no sense to try to eradicate it and we will try to suppress it instead. We might have some success because our vaccination rates are so high. All ethnic groups are now 90% double vaccinated, and the total population 12+ is now 96% double vaccinated, and counting! It is a remarkable effort.
If you haven’t already, now is the time to book your recall for substantial additional protection. Anyone aged 18 and over who has been fully immunized for at least three months can now get a free booster, reducing the risk of more serious infection and the need for hospitalization.
Omicron will always come and when it does, think of the health workers. They will have about 8 weeks of high stress. Modeling suggests that during this time, 20% or 30% of our healthcare workforce will need to step down, self-isolate, or because they have COVID 19 themselves. Others will need to step in.
Omicron will hit primary and community care the hardest – your GP or diabetes nurse, your Maori healthcare provider or mental health practitioner. People you may know by name.
Hospitals will also be affected – emergency departments and wards can become congested or overwhelmed, and some people will end up in intensive care. But, because so many of us have been vaccinated, most of us will have milder disease.
This is why vaccination is the best preparation of all.
Check out these other Better Health South stories:
Prepare your household for COVID-19
Southern hospitals – increased security measures
Take care of your well-being
Hearts of Gold helped heal car accident trauma
Southern DHB supports Tonga outreach