Tuesday 15 November 2022 was the one year anniversary of the imposition of the New Zealand government’s vaccine mandates which attempted to enforce a “vaccine passport” digital ID system upon the nation. At this time one section of society became extremely enriched via government money, complying with elation at the bounties on offer. Another section complied willingly, believing it to be the right thing to do. Yet others complied reluctantly in order to retain their employment, livelihood, homes, ability to feed their family and ability to continue participating in society. A certain proportion of these three sections of society are now injured and unable to sustain their employment, livelihoods and participation in society. A final, minority section of society refused to comply, losing their rights to earn a living, maintain careers, sustain livelihoods or, for about six months until the attempt was abandoned, to participate in society.
Dr Matt Shelton represented NZDSOS at one of eighteen locations around the nation which held Red Remembrance Day. Each location read the same NZDSOS-endorsed speech, before inviting people up to speak of their own mandates experience.
Liz Gunn of FreeNZ shared “a love letter to my fellow kiwis on the dark anniversary of one year since this <government> enforced the most brutish mandates…“. Her feeling is palpable, powerful, and shared by many.
Someone I know shared this speech they delivered at one of the Red Remembrance Days held around the country on Tuesday.
One year ago today my 26 year career came crashing to an end. I had spent nine years in formal training which included three years obtaining a Master of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.
I was employed for over 15 years at a public health unit where my roles included infectious disease surveillance, infectious disease program coordination, outbreak response and vaccination program management including training vaccine providers and assessing vaccine benefits and risks. I undertook many hundreds of hours of informal training and short courses including in virology, immunology, epidemiology, microbiology, human rights and other relevant topics. Today this knowledge and experience makes me a “right wing, racist, white supremacist, misogynist, conspiracy theorist anti-vaxer with unacceptable views”. Apparently!
I also worked for over two years more recently on infectious disease programs with a large international humanitarian organisation in an impoverished nation with totalitarian political leadership and corrupted health systems involving power dynamics which cause a lot of harm to the most vulnerable, whilst enriching the most powerful. In that time I observed extreme poverty and the effects it has on health. I was always curious as to how a nation could fall into poverty and why their leaders would not find ways to improve such horrific suffering. The divide between rich and poor is enormous and human life holds no value if you belong to the less fortunate group.
Today I remain unemployable because I refused to comply with what I consider to be a dangerous mandate. Dangerous to my personal health but also dangerous to the principles of democracy and public health, as I watch health services lose the right to engage in critical thinking and independent, evidence based practice, sliding into robotic obedience feeding political agendas of profit and power.
In the last year things which I never imagined could have been a part of my future a mere three years ago have happened. Many of them I neither wanted nor deserved. People who I once assumed would support me in an hour of need, abandoned me and accused me of various wrongdoing including that I chose or deserved to be abused, to lose my livelihood, my life and my profession. Many of those same people, I am very aware, are going to need support at some point in the short to medium future. I dream of appropriate justice to the mongers responsible.
I now volunteer with two amazing grass roots organisations, where I get to work with other unemployed health professionals who share my perspective on what is happening. With the Health Forum New Zealand, I speak with the vaccine injured. Their loss and suffering is beyond anything I ever thought possible in New Zealand. Stories of chronic and severe injury and illness. Stories of lost jobs. The same jobs that many agreed to be injected in order to keep. Stories of lost relationships. Of lost homes. Of lost income. Of lost child custody. Of losing the assumption of a secure future. They sleep in cars, on couches, and in shelters. They seek health care which is intimidating and dismissive much of the time.
I hear stories of impoverishment, homelessness, chronic pain and inability to function. Of considering suicide as a valid alternative. Of being completely ignored by authorities and dismissed by the very health services who administered the medical product which harmed them.
These are stories you become familiar with when you work in a third world nation. But they are the stories today, of thousands of New Zealanders.
My other voluntary role is with New Zealand Doctors Speaking Out With Science. This role uses the skills I once needed to work in public health, but which I now observe becoming obsolete in compromised health services. NZDSOS follow evidence, explore science, engage in authentic public health and partner with the most ethical and professional organisations both within New Zealand and overseas. It is an exciting organisation to be a part of.