As the first Omicron wave passes through the country, it has alarmed me to hear people say that it hasn’t been that bad, that they’re glad it’s nearly over. My first and last thoughts are for all those whānau – more than 700 – who are mourning the loss of a family member. Kia maumahara tonu tātou ki a rātou.

Experts are telling us to prepare for cases to increase again over the winter months. We have to be vigilant; to stay alert; being mindful about the uncertainty of variants that are yet unknown to us. With these threats still very much on the horizon, I am really keen to support whānau to do whatever they can to boost their natural immunity, including the childhood immunisations and of course COVID-19 vaccinations.

For our whānau, the decision to get vaccinated was very much motivated by our three-year-old mokopuna. The rest of our household are able to get vaccinated, and we made our decision to vaccinate to provide a buffer and keep her safe. There were other reasons: one of my daughters has had some respiratory health issues in the past, and we wanted to set a good example for our 12-year-old son and support him to get his vaccination as well. The good health of my 86-year-old dad also weighed heavily in my mind. As a mum, I don’t want any of my children to be limited by the impacts of this virus. I want their world to be full of endless possibilities for wellbeing.

I’m not a scientist or a medical practitioner, so I have placed my trust in those who have that knowledge to guide me in my decisions. This doesn’t mean that it’s not important to have an enquiring mind and to ask questions, but for our whānau the advantages I could see for vaccination far outweighed the reasons for not doing it.

I spend my life thinking of ways that I can provide them with the best future possible and enable them to walk forward with confidence; making sure they have a great education, helping them build a strong connection with their marae, their grandparents, aunties and uncles and all the cousins. In this case that meant making an informed choice about their health and wellbeing. I felt it was my responsibility and obligation to their whakapapa to do everything in my power to keep them strong and healthy.