The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners says there needs to be a change in mindset for how we deal with COVID-19 in the future.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have worked to eliminate COVID-19 and keep community transmission as low as possible.
Dr Bryan Betty, the College’s Medical Director says, “Omicron is not Delta, and as we enter the third year of the pandemic, we need to show that we can still manage what’s going on with COVID, but we also need to mentally prepare for a shift towards living with, instead of fighting COVID-19, and focus on other health issues and illnesses that are waiting in the wings.”
Dr Betty says that heading into the winter months, Influenza is a big concern because we have not been as exposed to it due to lockdowns and border closures, there is the potential for its impact to be worse than previous years.
In addition, childhood immunisation rates are falling for the youngest members of our communities. Immunisation coverage for children at 6 months of age is sitting at 74 percent. This means we could see the re-emergence of whooping cough and potentially measles.
The best way to protect ourselves and our whānau against the flu, whooping cough, measles, and COVID-19 is through vaccination.
“The pandemic will come to an end in the next six to 12 months. That’s not to say COVID-19 will disappear – it won’t. However, we will learn to live with it in the same way we do with colds and flu.
“For those that are elderly, isolated, have co-morbidities or live in areas of high deprivation we know this could be difficult and it is crucial that the necessary support is in place and that the appropriate medical care is available if required.”
Over time we will all have to adapt. COVID-19 will become endemic around the world and how we deal with flu outbreaks and how we deal with COVID-19 outbreaks will look similar.
“Let’s keep calm, keep healthy and more importantly, get vaccinated and boosted. In the end we will get there and back to our ‘new normal’,” says Dr Betty.