The Ponderer

Apparently, the Selwyn district has the highest vaccination rate in the entire country. In her October email update, the local MP Nicola Grigg proudly proclaimed that Selwyn had a 95% first-dose vaccination rate as of October 26. Star News claimed 97% on 29 October. The NZ Herald claimed 99% back on 9 November. And that 99% figure is quoted by many people in casual conversation – it’s an established truth.

But this is very strange. Everybody who actually lives in Selwyn knows many, many people who are not vaccinated. Yet that 99% figure is almost a month old now, and surely it’s only gone up even higher?


Fortunately, the NZ Herald is automatically updating the numbers for us. As of today, I am pleased to announce that Selwyn has a 103.2% vaccination rate! Seriously, check the numbers in the below table. 96.5% with two doses, plus 6.7% with one dose. Queenstown-Lakes is now on 103.1% vaccinated. This is a statistical miracle!

Actually, it shows that the numbers are nonsense. As far as I have been able to ascertain, the total number of people in the Selwyn district is calculated as the number of people enrolled in a medical centre in Selwyn. If so, this clearly explains these peculiar numbers.

Many people in Selwyn are not enrolled in a Selwyn medical centre, for two reasons. Some people virtually never go to the doctor so simply aren’t enrolled at any one time. Others are enrolled in Christchurch or elsewhere – and this is common. There are no after-hours medical facilities in Selwyn, so anyone who gets sick at the weekend goes into a Christchurch after-hours facility – usually Riccarton Clinic. This means people in Selwyn are usually familiar with Christchurch medical centres also, and many choose to enrol there rather than locally.

A fair proportion of my own extended family live in Selwyn but are either not enrolled anywhere, or are enrolled at Riccarton.
However, to get vaccinated, there is no need to travel to Christchurch – there are plenty of vaccination clinics in Selwyn. This means that more people have got vaccinated in Selwyn than are enrolled in medical centres in Selwyn.

What is the actual vaccination rate in Selwyn? Anecdotally, certainly a lot less than this. It’s a rural area containing lots of nature-focused hippies, conservative Christians, just-leave-me-alone freedom lovers, and every other group you might associate with “vaccine hesitant” views. I personally know very many people in Selwyn who are not vaccinated. I don’t know the overall numbers of course, but I do know the numbers we are being told are bollocks. It is probable that Selwyn is actually no more vaccinated than anywhere else.

These absurd numbers are being used to inform very serious and far-ranging decisions. In local meetings discussing the impact of the traffic light system on local government facilities, private businesses, clubs, churches etc, people are dutifully repeating the statistic that 99% of Selwyn is vaccinated – so less than 1% of the population will be affected if you require vaccine passports for your business/club/church. And you will lose <1% of your patrons. Meanwhile the unvaccinated are being subjected to even more peer pressure using these fraudulent numbers.

How many businesses and associations will choose to exclude the unvaccinated based on a statistic which is patently false? How much will this influence the Selwyn District Council as they decide policies for halls and libraries etc?

This is a very serious matter. The error is egregious and the implications are vast.

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