ANALYSIS: Thames Coromandel Mayor Sandra Goudie has stated she wants to wait for Novavax to arrive here before she gets vaccinated.
She’s stubbornly refused to say precisely why, which makes it a bit of tough to analyse her position.
But we all know sufficient to say, within the gentlest attainable phrases, that her stance is nonsensical, and from a public determine, it’s harmful.
Why it would not make sense to attend
The Covid-19 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is protected. It’s been given to a whole bunch of thousands and thousands of individuals worldwide.
It is a mRNA-based vaccine. These vaccines use a chemical messenger (the mRNA, or messenger ribonucleic acid) to construct spike proteins, which imitate the virus. This teaches our immune system to recognise and attack it.
The mRNA never enters the nucleus of cells, the place our genetic materials is stored, and our cells destroy the mRNA quickly after studying the directions. It would not and couldn’t presumably – opposite to misinformation – alter your DNA.
Millions of doses of the Novavax vaccine are due here in early 2022. Subject to Medsafe approval, they might be used to manage Covid-19 booster photographs.
Novavax works differently. It is a protein-based vaccine, much like these used for viruses comparable to influenza and HPV. It works by supplying you with a little bit of artificial spike protein, as an alternative of prompting you to make it your self.
Novavax is a more recent vaccine, and hasn’t been rolled out as extensively worldwide. Vaccinologist Helen Petousis-Harris says it appears “very, very good” from trials, and corresponding to different high-performing vaccines like Pfizer.
But there may be completely no cause to attend. Not solely has the safety and efficiacy of Pfizer been proven, however we do not know Government plans for the way and when Novavax shall be used.
“What I’m hearing is ‘I really don’t like vaccines,’ but it sounds better to say ‘I’ll wait and take another one’,” Petousis-Harris says.
“It doesn’t stack up when you look at the risk of the [Pfizer] vaccine, which is minimal, versus the danger of the virus, which is in our community.
“It shows limited knowledge and understanding, and is a way of saying ‘I really don’t want to be vaccinated at all’.”
To sum up, it doesn’t make sense at this level to want Novavax over Pfizer. (That’s except you suppose Pfizer modifications your DNA, which it doesn’t.) If something, Pfizer is the extra confirmed, thus far.
Where is Goudie coming from?
When Goudie was approached by Stuff, she stated it was her “personal choice” to attend for Novavax. This sort of coded language, invoking the concepts of freedom and selection, has been used by vaccine hesitant people since vaccines were invented.
It is a approach of derailing the dialog, re-framing an enormous collective public well being effort to avoid wasting lives as an affront towards an individual’s “rights.”
Petousis-Harris says that is typical of anti-vaccination rhetoric, and once more, would not stack up.
“We relinquish our personal choices every day – you can go and drink till you drop, but you can’t get behind a wheel of a car because you hurt someone else,” she says.
“You also have responsibilities, and you haven’t taken steps to minimise the chance of you spreading this virus to others, and you could take up a bed in the ICU that someone else needs.
“This has a huge impact on health professionals who have to deal with this, so there are a lot of consequences that come as a result of your personal choice.”
On online forums, it is fairly common to hear people say they are “waiting for Novavax” or say they are not anti-vaccination, “just this vaccine,” in reference to Pfizer.
History suggests that, by the time Novavax arrives, there will be another manufactured reason not to take that particular vaccine.
Why ready is harmful
For us to get again to something approaching a standard life, at least 90 per cent of the population over the age of 12 needs to be vaccinated. While it doesn’t fully cease transmission, the Pfizer vaccine is extraordinarily good at preventing serious illness and death.
It will slow the spread of the virus in order that our hospitals aren’t overwhelmed, which will mean people with Covid-19 and other health conditions don’t get really sick or needlessly die. Those who get vaccinated are also helping to protect children and vulnerable populations.
As Petousis-Harris says: “The time for waiting is over. Covid is in our community, and as soon as we ease our restrictions it will find people, and it will infect them. We don’t have to look far beyond our shores to see exactly what will happen.”
When a public figure in a position of influence and privilege, like a Pākehā mayor and former MP, says that she isn’t going to get vaccinated and provides a bogus reason which feeds into established myths about vaccines and anti-vax rhetoric, this has an impact.
It means those who believe the misinformation feel validated. It means those who are susceptible to it might feel it has been legitimised.
It reveals a shocking lack of perception into how giving airtime to falsehoods may affect underserved and vulnerable populations, like Māori and Pasifika, and immunocompromised folks.
As a mayor, Goudie should have her whole constituency’s best interests at heart.
Her stance suggests this isn’t the case.
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