Chief Health Officer Dr. Ashley Bloomfield backs today’s Super Saturday national vaccination push, saying there is an “element of generosity” in protecting everyone from Covid-19.
The Super Saturday Vaxathon aims to vaccinate up to 100,000 people today in Aotearoa.
Current figures show that around 83 percent of New Zealand’s eligible population have received their first dose and 61 percent their second dose.
Talking to Saturday morning Today, Dr. Bloomfield said it is urgent that everyone get the highest rate possible.
“Here we have in Covid-19 a very real and present danger.”
There have been 136 community cases in Auckland in the past two days, he noted.
“People don’t need to look too far, even in Australia and other parts of the world, to see that once the virus is in the community, it is not transmitted and everyone is fine. It carries a huge cost to health. so much toll on physical and mental health. “
“The prevalence of long-term Covid is substantial. It is not a trivial disease.”
When it comes to vacillating, Dr. Bloomfield pointed out that many of them had already been vaccinated against other diseases.
“Most of those people would have been vaccinated multiple times during their lives and the reason they were vaccinated against a wide range of diseases – measles, rubella, mumps, diphtheria, hepatitis B – the reason for this is that the vaccination actually It prevents them from having those conditions in the first place, and none of those conditions, or very few of those conditions, are things that most people will be exposed to in their lifetime. “
Dr. Bloomfield said that there are actually few people who are completely against all vaccines.
“The proportion of the population that has never been vaccinated, who have a fundamental belief against vaccination, is very small.
“There is a greater proportion of people who have specific concerns about vaccination against Covid and some in particular about the Pfizer vaccine.
“What I would say to those people is that the vaccine has been shown (to work) and now hundreds of millions of doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been given around the world, and the evidence is really clear that it protects not only to you as an individual, but those around you. “
As Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and others have pointed out, vaccination is not just about the individual, she said.
“One of the things that really caught my attention at the beginning of the pandemic was the number of healthcare professionals who, while caring for people with Covid, infected themselves. And some of those healthcare professionals died. AND they were perfectly healthy people.
“The thing about vaccination is that it not only protects the individual, but it is very important in terms of our overall response and providing immunity to the population.
“There is an element of generosity, kindness, collectivism in vaccination that I think a lot of people have absolutely endorsed.”
Children under the age of 12 are not yet eligible for vaccines and there are a small number of others who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.
People who are immunosuppressed or have cancer are among the most likely to become seriously ill, said Dr. Bloomfield.
“Very few people, estimates of less than 100 to 200 people in New Zealand, were actually unable to receive this vaccine, and that is mainly because they have had a very severe reaction to the first dose of the vaccine or have a history of very severe anaphylaxis. serious “.
As for booster doses for those already vaccinated, which are being rolled out in other countries, Dr Bloomfield said New Zealand will eventually follow suit as well.
“Rest assured that we are already planning to implement a reinforcement program.”
This week there was controversy over Thames-Coromandel Mayor Sandra Goudie, who announced that she would not take the Pfizer vaccine and attacked the vaccine mandates. Goudie said he was waiting for the unapproved Novavax vaccine instead.
The Novavax vaccine does not use the mRNA technology that Pfizer and Moderna injections do. MRNA vaccines teach cells how to make a protein that triggers the immune response.
However, Novavax has not yet been approved for use.
“The Pfizer vaccine is very safe. Now there is that real world experience around the world with hundreds of millions of doses.
“That is not the same for Novavax. Novavax is still in testing. Actually, it is not approved in any country because they have not submitted the data yet. Some people are waiting for Novavax because the nature of the vaccine is one that does not it does. ” t use mRNA technology.
“But what I’d say is that he doesn’t really have the same level of experience in the real world because he’s still in testing.”
Dr. Bloomfield said that enthusiasm for an unapproved vaccine in some circles may be based on people viewing unverified information online.
“It could be the same reason that people talk about ivermectin and other things. They have seen some information and sometimes these things are picked up and amplified through a wide range of channels.”
He said he understands that some may have doubts about the Pfizer vaccine, but that soon New Zealand will be able to use approved alternatives.
“I know some people who are concerned about mRNA vaccines, but would be prepared to receive one of the other vaccines that we have already approved, such as AstraZeneca or Janssen.
“We are close to finalizing an endorsement for those people, particularly those who must be vaccinated for their work.”
When he took office as Director General of Health in 2018, few would have imagined the outbreak of the global pandemic. Dr Bloomfield said it was difficult at first when Covid-19 took over the world.
“There were certainly times early in the pandemic where I had that sense, waking up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night and thinking, ‘OMG. This is really a challenge.’
“If I reflect on the last 20 months and what we really set out to do, which was protect our population, try to protect our economy, protect our healthcare system, and prevent the virus from entering the Pacific. Those were our goals and I feel like we have done quite well as a country to date and we are still really focused on maintaining that good result. “
While the tension of Auckland’s two months on the Level 3 or 4 lockdown has been obvious, Dr Bloomfield said he is not concerned that the country is about to surrender.
“I am greatly encouraged by the level of support New Zealanders have given and willingly given to our efforts.
“We use the word compliance, it is not the correct word, cooperation really. People take care of each other. I think, as we have seen in recent weeks, particularly when the reality of Covid in our community has come home to many people. ., they have realized that vaccination is something they can do not only for themselves, but also as part of our overall response. “
Dr. Bloomfield has a busy Saturday ahead of him – he has a Facebook live event scheduled and will then visit places around Wellington later today.
“I have a dazzling day, but what seems like a really nice day ahead of me.”
He said the idea of Super Saturday is aimed at increasing rates, but also providing people with slight relief from the stress of the pandemic.
“The vaxathon will be a huge blast from the past. I can’t wait to join in on the fun out there … There are some incredible events happening around the motu.”
“It’s going to be a great day.”