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Chris Bishop supports AND opposes vaccine mandates

Written By: - Date published: 8:28 am, August 3rd, 2022 - 51 comments
Categories: chris bishop, covid-19, health, national, politicans, same old national, uncategorized - Tags:

Remember when National’s Chris Bishop thought that Labour was not being staunch enough of mandates?

I do.  From Newstalk in October last year:

National says the Government needs to move urgently to make vaccination mandatory in more frontline roles.

Cabinet ministers are due to discuss the issue tomorrow.

National Covid-19 Response Spokesman Chris Bishop says he expects them to agree to make vaccination mandatory for all healthcare workers dealing with Covid cases.

He told The Weekend Collective it’s something he’s been calling for and fully supports.

“Frankly, probably taken too long. At the moment, you could be a nurse, working on someone with Covid in ICU, and not have to be vaccinated. It’s pretty nuts.”

But things have apparently changed and Bishop has executed a 180 degree about face.  From yesterday’s Herald:

National’s Covid-19 spokesman Chris Bishop says it is now time to scrap the Covid-19 vaccine mandates in the public health sector and let unvaccinated nurses and midwives get back to work.

Bishop’s call goes a step further than National Party leader Christopher Luxon’s most recent comment on the issue a fortnight ago, when he said it was time for a “conversation” about ending the remaining health mandates.

He said the vast majority of health workers were vaccinated, and National believed people should get vaccinated.

“But we think the time for vaccine mandates in our health system is time to come to an end.”

At one level this is utterly predictable.  Chris Bishop is very good at working out which way the wind is blowing and then advocating for the predicted wind assisted position.  He is right at one level.  Mandates will one day be removed and then he can claim to be some sort of super hero with the ability to influence the Government.

But he tries to have it both ways in totally opposite directions far too often.

The proposal has a superficial benefit.   Much needed health professionals although very few of them will become available.  But do we really want employees who have refuted one of the mainstays of modern medicine to come back into the workforce?

51 comments on “Chris Bishop supports AND opposes vaccine mandates ”

  1. Steve Ballantyne 1

    The midwives seem to be hot on this, and for the life of me I can’t understand why.

    Would I want my hypothetical partner and our child to receive medical care from someone who could be carrying a lethal pandemic virus?



    Hell, no, in fact.

    • weka 1.2

      Afaik, the current vaccine does not do much to limit transmission of the current variant of coronavirus. So you future partner is as likely to get covid from a vaxed person as an unvaxed one.

      This is different from when we had earlier variants and the vaccine inhibited transmission and thus the mandates made sense.

      The value of the vaccine currently is to reduce severity of illness and impact on health systems.

      What I would be looking at in a midwife is who is taking all the other precautions. Are they wearing a well fitted N95 mask, not just during the appointment but when they are in cafes or supermarkets?Are they avoiding superspreader events like concerts? Does their office have good ventilation and room to distance? Are they disclosing close contact with people with covid? How are they doing to manage covid risk during labour and post-partum?

      We need to be using all the tools to suppress transmission.

      Of the people that choose to not vaccinate there will definitely be those that are slack around all those things or even anti them. But some will be doing all those things because they understand how transmission works. And there are also people who vax who think the vax (or previous covid infection) gives them more protection than it does and aren't doing the other things enough or at all.

      • Rosemary McDonald 1.2.1

        I was fortunate to have the same midwife for all three birthings. A coup, since this was on the cusp of independent midwives and LMCs. This one got the contract because she wore sensible shoes, was stroppier than me and the first bit of kit she unloaded for the home birth was the infant resuscitation gear. ( Not necessarily in that order.)

        She also was a bit 'alternative'….advocating good diet and plenty of exercise and fresh air, and not once suggested I give up my very strenuous job. She just suggested I not take up a new strenuous pastime…like horse riding. She used stuff like arnica and rescue remedy…and despite what some here would claim…she was not hippy enough for the extreme home birthers group because she would not relinquish her authority over the safety of baby and mother. If she decided hospital…hospital it was.

        This is what you look for in a midwife. IMO. You want one you can trust. A professional. The rest of your conditions might be important to you…but can you really expect to dictate their entire life? Life goes on. And I suspect many might say they do what you say they must do but not actually do it.

        We must each take the precautions we think we need.

        • weka

          there are two parallel dynamics here (am thinking about writing a post about this, so bear with me as I tease out my thinking).

          1. the liberal libertarian strand. People who value self reliance and community resilience. They tend to have more people who are alt/hippy etc, because if you need healthcare outside of the mainstream system or a homebirth, you often just have to organise that yourself. So the people that have been failed by mainstream medicine, sometimes majorly or catastrophically, tend to congregate here. A large part of my life is here, both philosophically and by necessity from disability. I critique this strand politically for the ways it fails the collective.

          2. the leftie strand. People who value collective responsibility, and who see the individual as part of the whole, therefore the wellbeing of the whole matters a great deal. There's an inherent principle that many people cannot self manage out of situations like poverty, wage slavery, violence, unemployment, disability and so on, so politics must include collective responses to protect and uplift those people. This group tends to poo poo self reliance as a political strategy, and often people here don't 'believe' in things like alternative medicine because they trust authority more than individual experience. A large part of my politics is here, but there are obvious fails around self reliance, health care, and giving people individual tools to help them solve problems.

          I can't see a strong case for mandates on midwives during a midwifery shortage given the vaccine currently doesn't provide much transmission protection. I also think the 'protect yourself' message is a major fail. No way should midwives be not masking if the client needs that.

          The only way the libertarian position on covid makes sense is if you believe that covid is not a big deal. I have a lot of friends in this strand, and I can tell the ones I trust from the ones I don't, by how they consider my wellbeing eg telling me if they've had cold symptoms recently when I visit them, vs standing in the supermarket talking to me while their mask slips down and they keep stepping closer to me as I keep stepping back.

          I'm not a fan of timebased predictions, but what I expect is that in 2023 we will have to rethink everything because of the by then apparent numbers of people with long covid. Self responsibility is all very well until one in ten health care workers, teachers, tradies can't work because they now have a disability. That affects everyone. It doesn't take much to figure out how that's going to play out over the next five years given there's not much sign of natural immunity yet.

          • weka


            • Incognito

              Covid-19 vaccination, particularly with mRNA vaccines, is likely to protect the mother as well as the baby. Such protection is never absolute, but is likely to be non-zero.


              • weka

                the issue is transmission (not sure what you mean by protection). Addressed in the other subthread.

                • Incognito

                  The tweets mentioned "unvaxed pregant women", so I responded to that, on-topic.

                  Although undeniable evidence that human milk antibodies directly protect against respiratory infections is lacking, it is very likely that these antibodies play a crucial role and that IgA provides the first line of defense.

                  • weka

                    the tweets were about the mandate in midwives and whether the midwife is vaccinated or not.

                    The point about invaccinated pregnant women is that midwifery care is better when it's a good cultural fit. A woman who is strongly against vaccinating herself and her children probably shouldn't have a midwife who strongly disapproves of that choice. Mandates that limit the availability of midwives lessen all women’s choices. Women fought long and hard to increase choices in maternity care and for very good reasons (in part to do with outcomes).

                    The medical issues of impact of covid and vaccination on unborn babies is a separate issue.

                    • Incognito

                      The medical issues of impact of covid and vaccination on unborn babies is a separate issue.

                      No, it really isn’t. Accommodating unvaxed pregnant women with unvaxed midwives is continuing denying both mother and unborn baby, and after it is born via breastfeeding, for example, the best available care and protection for their health and wellbeing. This is a holistic view.

                      Vaccination does still have a positive effect on transmission although the evidence is much weaker with later variants and this protective effect drops off quickly over time. It is not zero. Similarly, vaccinated mothers (and midwives) are less likely to be infected. It is not zero.

                      People can make their own choices and have their personal opinions, but they cannot make up their own facts to suit their beliefs and associated narratives.

                      Government will review the mandates and make a decision based on evidence and likely levels of tolerance and acceptance (aka compliance) of the mandates. As I said, I believe they’ll end the mandates in the foreseeable future – they were always intended as temporary measures.

                    • Incognito


                      If you’re pregnant, you can get a COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine (Comirnaty) at any stage of your pregnancy.

                      The Pfizer vaccine protects you as you’re far less likely to fall seriously ill. It also protects your pēpi as there is evidence that babies can get antibodies through the placenta that help protect them from COVID-19.

                      Being vaccinated also means you’re less likely to transmit the virus to others. It helps protect tamariki in your family who are too young to be vaccinated, and older whanāu members (such as grandparents) you’re spending time with.


        • Kat

          The All Blacks have been using arnica for many years including fascial and myo fascial fitness massage treatment. To paraphrase a popular rock band from the 70's, "what were once hippy are now mainstream"……….

      • Incognito 1.2.2

        Key observations for the current discussion are that adults who have received three vaccine doses are (1) less likely than unvaccinated people to get infected with Omicron, and (2) less likely to pass the infection on to others. The differences are smaller than in the case of Delta, but still appreciable.


        There are sketchy data on the effectivity of vaccination against the newer variants that now dominate and, partly for that reason, there are modelling studies that all suggest that vaccination still is effective and a useful tool in our arsenal. I expect Government to bow to pressure as soon as the Covid numbers are further down from current highs, but when and where exactly they’ll draw the line is anybody’s guess at the moment (if I had to make a very wild guess I’d say end of September).

    • Populuxe1 1.3

      Some midwives. There is a small subset who are naturopathy wackadoodle – the kind that don't have a back up plan to get their patient to a hospital in an emergency. They are a minority.

      • weka 1.3.1

        this is utter bullshit. The reason there are so many midwives affected by the mandate is that midwives hold a great deal of knowledge and experience in holistic healthcare.

        People who think that's wackadoodle are pig ignorant. People who thinks midwives who support natural healthcare are inherently dangerous in their practice are bigots.

        • coge

          Advocating a healthy diet and exercise is certainly not wackadoodle. To a large extent these are our best preventative medicines.

        • Populuxe1

          The reason there are so many midwives affected by the mandate is that midwives hold a great deal of knowledge and experience in holistic healthcare.

          Well that was hella revealing. Care to explain to what that means? How does having a "great deal of knowledge and experience in holistic healthcare" cause "so many midwives to be affected by the mandate"? That would imply following a holistic model made them antivax, in which case my statement stands. Of course I don't believe all holistic practitioners are antivax – just the wackadoodle ones.

          • weka

            your mistake there is assuming all non vaccinated people are anti-vax. And that unvaccinated people (for whatever reason) are wackadoodle. Like I said, bigoted and ignorant.

            • Populuxe1

              No, that's you projecting. There are of course many reasons people can't be vaccinated, particularly if they are immunocompromised. That's a given and need not be dragged up whenever. Most people, myself included, are not judging the immunocompromised.
              Of course given the kinds of pathogens midwives are often exposed to while assisting in a birth, it would be a singularly peculiar occupation for someone who was immunocompromised.
              What's left? Libertarians? They're definitely whackadoodle. Indeed there are few philosophies more whackadoodle.
              Someone claiming not to be anti-vax but making a "personal decision" not to? Yeah nah, contradictory and irrational – not ideal qualities in a medical professional. Wackadoodle.

              • RedLogix

                weka is 100% correct on this.

                Your presumption that anything not completely mainstream conventional medicine must be whackdoodle is a faulty one.

                • Populuxe1

                  Nope, my contention is that to exclusively embrace unproven alternatives to proven mainstream conventional medicine instead of as a complement is wackadoodle. But by all means continue to project away, no skin off my nose.

                  • RedLogix

                    my contention is that to exclusively embrace unproven alternatives

                    I cannot recall anyone here advocating that. And I am certain neither weka, Rosemary nor myself are either.

                    As a rough rule of thumb, science based conventional medicine works very well for acute illnesses where the feedback between cause and effect is relatively direct and immediate. Chronic conditions often have no obvious cause – and this is where the observational, pattern recognising methods of the alternative practitioners come into their own.

                    I keep a foot firmly in both camps.

                    • Populuxe1

                      The issue remains that if they have chosen not to be vaccinated, they have rejected mainstream medicine outright, and short of being immunocompromised or some pre-existing condition, the reasoning for doing so, based on all the available evidence, doesn't cut it for me if said person is claiming not to be anti-vax or anti-mainstream medicine.

              • weka

                bigot and an idiot. Antivax has a specific mean, it's people who hold a strong belief system that vaccination is wrong. This is different from people who made a personal choice to not get the covid vax but have had other vaccines. It's not hard to understand but you will use your own strong belief system to indulge in bigotry to support your views rather than try and understand a set of complex dynamics.

        • Incognito

          The reason there are so many midwives affected by the mandate …

          How many left because of the mandate? How many midwives in total are there in NZ?

    • AB 1.4

      My experience of midwives (19 years ago admittedly) is that they were utterly bonkers about breastfeeding, and that it took a well-educated, graduate, registered nurse to stop them from starving a baby with undiagnosed CP who was never going to be able to latch on. She let me bottle feed baby formula after signing documents and declaring myself a borderline criminal and potential future abuser who was operating contra naturam. I am not surprised that some of them are still bonkers.

      • Rosemary McDonald 1.4.1

        I'm having a giggle about the signing of the papers…1986… a planned early discharge from hospital after parting with No.1 offspring. Both me and sprog where deemed ridiculously fit and well… but in order to leave within the proscribed term of confinement (24/48 hours? I don't recall) I had to sign a stack of forms taking responsibility for any untoward happening due to my taking myself and my infant home AMA.

        3 and a bit years later they shoved me out the door 1 1/2 hours after the birth.

        Fashion and/or politics.

      • Populuxe1 1.4.2

        I know quite a few midwives here and in Aus, both practitioners and the academics who train them, and I know the vast majority of NZ midwives are of the highest competency – but even midwives (and I don't know why this is so controversial to say) that there is still a minority who have, shall we say, fringe views, that diverge from best practice.

  2. Bearded Git 2

    Chris Bishop for a long time supported building many billions of dollars of purpose built MIQ facilities….until suddenly he didn’t. Another 180.

    He is all mouth and no trousers.

  3. Barfly 3

    Chris Bishop has the consistency of a weather vane. frown

  4. Rosemary McDonald 4

    John Tamihere is over Covid, and is lifting mandates and welcoming back mandated staff as vacancies arise.


    COVID has run its course. Here at Te Whānau o Waipareira we will welcome back those who were forced out by vaccination mandates. We understand why those mandates were applied at the time, but our doors are open to those staff when there are job opportunities available. This is part of building bridges back to the parts of the community that were deeply affected more so than others.

    As a rule, we kiwis have always had a great belief in our system, and we can’t any more.

  5. PsyclingLeft.Always 5

    A first-time mother who did not want to be named for fear of upsetting her midwife said she was horrified when she told her she shouldn’t be vaccinated.

    “I was shocked and appalled and felt really trapped because I knew I couldn’t change midwife, there’s no other midwives in our area. I’m worried about how she will handle the birth if she has such a limited understanding of basic health principles like immunisation.”

    A midwife who did not want to be named due to fear of anti-vaxxers said they welcomed the statement from the council, calling it “timely and well measured”.

    “In Australia the Nursing and Midwifery Board have taken it one step further, and have outlined that they are prepared to take disciplinary action against nurses and midwives spreading anti-vaccination propaganda and misinformation.”

    “The pushback on this by a few midwives isn’t really about informed choice, or freedom, or human rights – those are just words that people with immense privilege and ignorance are throwing around in order to stoke fear. This statement is about acknowledging that health professionals working on the frontline, with vulnerable populations, during a pandemic, have to understand what is and is not evidence-based research and peer-reviewed science.

    “And if they don’t know how to do that then that brings their competency as care providers into question.”


    Absolutely !!

  6. SPC 6

    With a vaccine that prevented infection and transmission I supported mandates.

    Now that it does not, I no longer do.

    The proposal has a superficial benefit. Much needed health professionals although very few of them will become available. But do we really want employees who have refuted one of the mainstays of modern medicine to come back into the workforce?


    Certainly all those who have been infected and now have some immunity.

    And to argue a preference for immunity by infection is not contesting a mainstay of modern medicine – it is not a requirement that health workers be vaccinated for flu.

    As to the public safety angle – I would have a temperature test for entry to medical facilities (quick as, and rat test anyone with a “temperature”) and some sort of regular workplace testing regime.

    One plays the field in front of you, not holding to past use by date dogma – like a WW1 general during trench warfare.

  7. Andy 7

    Just about everyone I know has had covid and the vx seems to make no difference to the severity of the illness, from our shared experience in the local community

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