Strong resistance online to Covid vaccine in Mahurangi

Posted at 2:12pm Monday 15 Feb, 2021

Resistance to the Covid-19 vaccine in Mahurangi has raised concerns.
Resistance to the Covid-19 vaccine in Mahurangi has raised concerns.

A Mahurangi Matters Facebook poll that asked readers whether they were willing to be vaccinated against Covid-19 has shown a surprising number of people opposed to the vaccine.

Mahurangi Matters science columnist Professor Ralph Cooney, who has covered the vaccine issue for the newspaper, says he is somewhat concerned by the result.

The Mahurangi Matters poll found 34 per cent of respondents were opposed to having the vaccine versus 66 per cent in favour. This compares to a One News poll conducted in December, which found only 22 per cent would “probably not” or “definitely not” have the vaccine.   

This represents a significantly increased local community health risk from persistence of Covid-19 over a much longer time. It would represent a special risk to older citizens over 65.

However, Professor Cooney noted that the Mahurangi Matters poll sample size was relatively small (131 respondents), so its result needed to be viewed as indicative rather than definitive.

The fierce anti-vaccine comments in the Mahurangi Matters poll included: “My body is not to be used as a lab rat. I am not to be experimented on”, “… with all the new strains what you would be vaccinated for probably wouldn't help you and might make you even more vulnerable!” and “People are dying and having adverse reactions [to the vaccine] around the world. Human guinea pigs! Stop believing the imposter government.”

In contrast, Professor Cooney suggests readers follow the advice of the US Mayo Clinic, which recommends individuals getting the Covid-19 vaccine as soon as it is available to them.  

He says it is only human to be anxious about the vaccine, but those who are feeling this way don't need to be first in line to receive it. Instead, he recommends waiting until several close friends have been vaccinated, consult with them how they are feeling after a week or more and then join the queue to be vaccinated.

He says while in that queue, those with doubts should reflect on the fact that for every approved vaccine in existence, roughly 100,000 volunteers have already been safely vaccinated ahead of them and that extremely demanding regulators, such as the Federal Drug Administration, have thoroughly audited the clinical trials and given final safety clearance for the vaccine.     

To those who have rejected the possibility of having the vaccine, Professor Cooney urges them to listen to New Zealand science experts, including Professor Michael Baker and Associate Professor Siouxie Wiles, and to read reputable science publications such as Nature, Lancet and Scientific American.

Professor Cooney also advocates listening to Maori health leaders and faith leaders such as the Pope and primates of the Anglican church.

Mahurangi epidemiologist Dr Jason Gurney echoes the need for people to listen to reputable sources.

“We all need to ensure that we base our vaccination decisions on facts, not misinformation from sources such as anti-vax organisations or misguided people on social media,” he says.  

Dr Gurney says many vaccine experts are working with the Government as part of the country's Covid-19 response team.

“These experts hold the latest and best information in terms of vaccine safety. These are the people we should be listening to,” he says.  

He added that it was worth highlighting the fact that the majority of those surveyed said they would be happy to take the vaccine, which was an encouraging sign and showed New Zealanders were taking the disease seriously.

You say online poll

We asked our Facebook followers if they are willing to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Here are some of the responses:

Jess Drum Nope. Not enough testing and long-term affects not known. Also covid keeps mutating so who's to say the vaccine will work properly in the first place.

Jenni Francis Sure will. Immunocompromised people who are unable to be vaccinated rely on us to keep them safe.

Christine Colgate A cautious yes for me due to lack of clarity on longer term side effects, but we can only rely on each other for protection, so I'd do it for the greater good.

See Mahurangi Matters Facebook for more comments and debate.


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