Covid-19 coronavirus: MIQ staffers speak of human cost of working on the frontline

New Zealand’s first MIQ worker to receive the Covid-19 vaccination has spoken of the human cost of working on the frontline battling the deadly virus.

Lynette Faiva- who works at the Jet Park managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) centre used for Covid-positive cases – received her jab yesterday as part of the biggest vaccination project in New Zealand history.

Shortly after she got her vaccination, health bosses confirmed there were no new community cases, but two more in MIQ facilities.

Speaking to media, Faiva revealed how tough working in the pressured – and potentially dangerous – environment had on what should be everyday family life.

“When I get home I can’t hug my family. I have to jump in the shower first, get all my clothes off and put it in the laundry.

“Those are the things I have to follow through with when I go home because it would absolutely devastate me if I was to take the virus home with me and they would catch it,” Faiva said.

She said she was going home to tell her family the vaccine was nothing to be afraid of.

“I didn’t feel anything. It was like a small prick. I’m going to tell them it doesn’t hurt and it was really easy,” Faiva said.

She said it was a privilege to be the first to receive the vaccine and was grateful for the opportunity.

“It was about providing another layer of protection.”

Another Jet Park staffer who got the jab spoke of the mental toll and stigma attached to working on the frontline.

Drew Leafa said the stigma and how they could be victimised by working on the frontline was tough.

“I love my rugby and I couldn’t play last year because I didn’t want the team to find out where I was working. I’m aware if you see people coughing and you wear your mask and the stigma you get around that, especially when people find out we are at Jet Park.”

He said his team were trying to let people know that what they were doing was for the country.

“We are doing our job to protect all the Kiwis returning home, make them feel welcome and when they leave there that they feel like they are being looked after.

“It is hard because everywhere you go, you are scanning your QR code, I have sanitiser in my car, I’ve got sanitiser in my bag. It’s being cautious in every way there is to make sure we have to led by example,” Leafa said.

About 12,000 border and MIQ workers will be vaccinated over the next couple of weeks before their household contacts and then later the remaining general public.

Deatils of the wider public roll out, set to start in the second half of the year, was still be finalised.

Director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said yesterday’s vaccinations marked a significant step forward in the fight against Covid-19.

“A milestone that protects those at highest risk of getting the virus and helping to reduce the risk of spreading into the community.”

Bloomfield said New Zealanders need to remember this pandemic is the most significant global public health challenge in a century and management it will require all our efforts for some time to come.

“Even though vaccinations have begun, it’s important everyone stays vigilant and sticks to the basics: staying home if unwell and getting advice about having a test, washing hands and coughing and sneezing into the elbow, and wearing masks or face coverings on all public transport.”

Dr Nikki Turner, director of the Immunisation Advisory Centre, said people keep asking her how safe the vaccine was and she wanted to reassure the public it was incredibly safe.

“We are confident about the safety of this vaccine … there is nothing to worry about with this vaccine,” Turner said.

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