ANALYSIS: Thames Coromandel Mayor Sandra Goudie said she wanted to wait for Novavak to arrive here before being vaccinated.
She stubbornly refused to say exactly why, so it is a little difficult to analyze her position.
But we know enough to, to put it mildly, say that her position is meaningless, and dangerous from a public figure.
Why doesn’t it make sense to wait
The Covid-19 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is safe. It is given to hundreds of millions of people around the world.
It is a vaccine based on mRNA. These vaccines use a chemical messenger (mRNA or messenger ribonucleic acid) to build spike proteins, which mimic the virus. This teaches our immune system to recognize and attack it.
MRNA never enters the cell nucleus, where our genetic material is stored, and our cells destroy mRNA soon after reading the instructions. It does not change and cannot – contrary to misinformation – change your DNA.
Millions of doses of the Novavak vaccine will arrive here in early 2022. Subject to Medsafe approval, they may be used to administer Covid-19 pushers.
Novavak acts differently. It is a protein-based vaccine, similar to that used for viruses such as influenza and HPV. It works by giving you a little synthetic protein with spikes, instead of encouraging you to make it yourself.
Novavak is a newer vaccine and is not so widespread in the whole world. Vaccinologist Helen Petousis-Harris says it looks “very, very good” from testing and comparable to other highly effective vaccines like Pfizer.
But there is absolutely no reason to wait. Not only has Pfizer’s safety and efficiency been proven, but we also don’t know the government’s plans on how and when Novavak will be used.
“What I hear is ‘I really don’t like vaccines,’ but it sounds better to say ‘I’ll wait and get another one,'” says Petousis-Harris.
“It simply came to our notice then [Pfizer] vaccine, which is minimal, as opposed to 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 get vaccinated at all.’
In short, at this point it makes no sense to give Novavak an advantage over Pfizer. (Unless you think Pfizer doesn’t change your DNA, which it doesn’t.) If nothing else, Pfizer is more proven so far.
Where does Goudie come from?
When Goudie approached Things, she said that her “personal choice” was to wait for Novavak. This type of coded language, invoking the ideas of freedom and choice, has been used by people who are hesitant about the vaccine since the vaccines were invented.
It is a way to derail the conversation, to reshape the massive collective efforts of public health to save lives as an insult against the “rights” of the person.
Petousis-Harris says this is typical of anti-vaccination rhetoric, and again disagrees.
“Every day we give up personal choices – you can go and drink until you fall, but you can’t sit behind the wheel of a car because you hurt someone else,” she says.
“You also have responsibilities and have not taken steps to reduce the possibility of the virus spreading to others, and you could take the bed in intensive care that someone else needs.
“This has a big impact on the health professionals who have to deal with it, so there are a lot of consequences that are the result of your personal choice.”
On online forums, it is quite common to hear people say that they are “waiting for Novavak” or say that they are not against vaccination, “only this vaccine”, in relation to Pfizer.
History suggests that by the time Novak arrives, there will be another manufactured reason not to take the vaccine.
Why waiting is dangerous
To return to anything close to normal life, at least 90 percent of the population over the age of 12 must be vaccinated. Although it does not completely stop the transmission, the Pfizer vaccine is extremely good at preventing serious illness and death.
This will slow the spread of the virus so that our hospitals are not overloaded, which will mean that people with Covid-19 and other health conditions do not get sick or die unnecessarily. Those who are vaccinated also help protect children and vulnerable populations.
As Petousis-Harris says: “The waiting time has passed. Covid is in our community and as soon as we ease the restrictions, they will find people and infect them. We don’t have to look beyond our shores to see what exactly will happen. “
When a public figure in a position of influence and privilege, such as Mayor Pakeha and a former MP, says that he will not be vaccinated and states a false reason that builds on the established myths about vaccines and rhetoric against vaccines, it is striking.
This means that those who believe that misinformation feels confirmed. This means that those who are subject to it could feel legitimized.
It shows a startling lack of insight into how giving time to lies could affect underserved and vulnerable populations, such as Maori and Pacific, and people with weakened immune systems.
As mayor, Goudie should keep in mind the best interests of her entire constituency.
Her attitude suggests that this is not the case.