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LETTERS: ‘Do vaccinate your children’

Monday 7 February 2022 | Written by Sian Solomon | Published in Letters to the Editor, Opinion


LETTERS: ‘Do vaccinate  your children’

Dear Editor, I have no desire to enter prolonged public debate but Serena Hunter is at it again and must be rebuffed.

This time she has crossed a line by threatening the health of our children.

I have no doubt her fear is sincere. I also have no doubt it is unfounded.

Unlike Bob Williams, but like her mum, I applaud you for publishing her opinions, especially when you follow with fact correction. Free speech is important and there is a difference between editing and censorship.

Like Bob, however, I do get frustrated with misinformation which is frankly dangerous. Children do get Covid, do die from Covid and do pass it on to adults and the vulnerable. Sure the risk is lower in this age group but it’s far from absent. Sure comorbidities in children increase their risk, but even raising that point devalues the very existence of these poor kids.

Full FDA approval is incredibly laborious and time consuming. In an emergency like the current one there is nothing unusual about an EUA (Emergency Use Approval) where lives are at risk. It is still a rigorous and reliable process. This is a non-issue.

I also get frustrated with the repeated implication that mRNA technology is new or experimental. It is neither. It’s been around since MERS in 2008 and widely trialled. You can call it an experiment if you like, but it’s a huge and successful experiment, with literally billions of doses having been given under unprecedented scientific scrutiny. And it’s a fabulous vaccine.

The risk profile reveals extraordinary safety. The efficacy profile is astounding. It has saved countless thousands of lives. The maths is not difficult. It is just so much more effective than many of our older yet useful vaccines which use traditional technology like attenuated viruses.

The original vaccine came from Edward Jenner’s brilliant observation that “milkmaids” who often got cowpox, a relatively harmless disease, never seemed to get deadly smallpox. In 1798 he therefore inoculated people with live cowpox virus and saved them from smallpox. The term “vaccine” actually comes from Variolae vaccinae (smallpox of the cow).

A cow called Blossom gave Sarah Nelmes cowpox, whose scabs were harvested for pus which was then injected into James Phipps aged 8. (Coincidentally he falls in the middle of the 5-11 age range of the current Covid vaccination drive.) Jenner then injected James with smallpox virus to see if it worked! It did.

We have moved on. Viruses are not used in mRNA vaccines but tiny combinations of some of their characteristic proteins are which is sufficient to stimulate our immune system. When the real virus turns up on the doorstep it gets slammed by our well primed immune response. And your life gets saved.

It does not change your DNA which is biologically impossible. It does not magnetise you, alter fertility, contain chips from Bill Gates or cause cancer. It is actually very unstable, which is why it requires super cold storage, and probably breaks down within hours in your body having done its immunity – boosting job and then checked out.

Again it comes down to assessment of risk. Antivaxxers have calculated that the vaccine is riskier than the virus. The overwhelming majority of mainstream medical opinion, including that of this writer, calculates the exact opposite. Please don’t impose this wrong thinking on our tamariki and mokopuna. Do vaccinate your children. It is recommended, safe, effective and essential in this awful pandemic.

I do not admit unvaccinated people to my hospital for elective procedures. They are few in number and so as Executive Director I can engage them all individually. I’ve had some pretty weird conversations.

As a group they are heterogeneous. Most are just fearful. This includes the paranoid, conspiracy theorists and phobic. Needle phobia is common. Some lack trust of any authority whether the law, justice system, health, police, education, doctors or government. That’s common in Northland. Some are prey to charismatic cult leaders like Brian Tamaki. Some are athletes who wear their fine form like a medal. They believe physical fitness is an immune suit of armour against infectious disease. “Novax” Djokovic is the prime example. Some are just bad at numbers.

Some anti-vaccination sentiment is apparently religious. I will therefore give the last word to Jenner, a humble man, who said on his deathbed: “I am not surprised that men are not grateful to me; but I wonder that they are not grateful to God for the good which He has made me the instrument of conveying to my fellow creatures”.

Kia manuia

Assoc Prof John Dunn FRACS

(Ngati Terei)


Te Tuhi Kelly on 09/02/2022

Sorry Dunn your, "It is still a rigorous and reliable process. This is a non-issue". It is an issue and is still not based on the scientific method and I fail to understand why you keep trotting this out. Rigorous and reliable is medical speak for promoting a view that is not 100% true. You are allowing for a measure of failure. The scientific measue does not allow for failure, either it is true or it is not. Having a quid both ways is more like it. It's like saying we need to come up with words that sound important for the masses, to promote the idea that, we know what's best and we have arrived at this prognosis through a process that sounds like we know what we are doing, so listen to us. If we can denigrate an alternative view then so be it. For years we had to put up with a medical profession that was like a secret society, we felt like mushrooms, kept in the dark about our health and fed on bs. Now you need to up your game and come clean and provide more detail and the dangers of what you are promoting, rather than promoting your spin doctoring (no pun intended) to get us to conform to a medical ideology that seems more about your narrative than about us. You push an agenda thats akin to the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, it's too late, we just don't have faith in what you are about and when you align yourself with Govts that removes our human rights then you are increasingly treading on shaky ground. That's the thing you have very little idea about your advice to Govt and the downstream effects that has on us, ignorance is what comes to mind and a disinterest in an outcome that far outweighs your medical advice. Tunnel vision springs to mind.