Thursday 21 October 2021
Vaccinations in School
Covid-19 has become a huge part of our lives and no matter where we live in the country, we've felt the impact of this global pandemic. Vaccinations mandates have been set down for everyone who works in schools (even in a voluntary capacity, even for just a one off moment or a short time). All of us who work at Te Kura o Tawatawa | Ridgway School are working towards being fully vaccinated by the 1 January next year.
There is a huge amount of information and mis-information relating to vaccinations circling around in our networks and news channels, and it can be hard to know who to listen to. All of us have to be discerning in selecting who to listen to and who to ignore when deciding where to go for our information and make sure the information we take on board is accurate and reliable . The Ministry of Education communicate with school leaders via a bulletin that is emailed directly to principals. Usually this Bulletin would be sent out every couple of weeks. During Covid lockdowns in 2020 and 2021 these bulletins were sent out daily. The Ministry continue to communicate with principals several times a week to pass on the most up to date details, facts and guidelines. In the last few weeks, they have had a lot to say about vaccinations in order to support school leaders support staff to get good reliable information and to help schools follow the guidelines and requirements surrounding the vaccination mandate for workers in schools.
I've copied below this summary of information from the Ministry of Education as it may be useful for some of you in our wider school community.
Why get vaccinated?
We’ve talked a lot about vaccinations in our bulletins lately, but we’re aware that in many school communities there continues to be anxiety about vaccinations – and some may even wonder why vaccines are being emphasised so strongly.
As noted, the Ministry of Health have set up a dedicated email you can use for queries about vaccinations and access to vaccination. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your queries.
Reasons to get vaccinated
Without vaccines, we’re at risk of serious illness, disability or even death from things like the measles, meningitis, pneumonia, tetanus and polio – and now COVID-19.
Vaccines work by stimulating the body’s natural resistance by training our immune systems to create antibodies.
Here are a few reasons why vaccinations are good – for everyone:
- they can prevent us from getting sick
- they are safe
- they can save lives
- they will not cause a disease they are designed to prevent
- they can help protect the community
- prevention is much better than treatment.
These are the reasons the Government is requiring the education workforce to be vaccinated by 1 January 2022.
It’s important to know that licensed vaccines have been rigorously tested across multiple phases before being approved for use.
See more information on the Ministry of Health website.
Addressing vaccine misinformationHere are some answers to common questions that may be helpful.
How does the vaccine work?
The COVID-19 vaccine works by teaching your body to fight the virus and protects you from
- The vaccine sends a set of instructions to teach your body how to fight the COVID-19 virus.
- With these instructions your body learns to recognise the COVID-19 virus and use antibodies against it. Antibodies stop the virus from infecting your cells and help to kill it.
- That means if you come into contact with the COVID-19 virus in the future, your body will have the right tools to protect itself so you are less likely to get sick.
The Pfizer vaccine has been thoroughly assessed for safety by our own Medsafe experts.
Medsafe only grants consent for using a vaccine in Aotearoa once they’re satisfied it has met strict standards for safety, efficacy and quality.
This is the same process used to assess other vaccines, like the flu, measles, and tetanus vaccines. There have been no shortcuts taken in granting approval.
The Pfizer vaccine has been used successfully by millions worldwide and is highly effective at preventing severe illness and death. It continues to be monitored for safety.
Why was it developed so quickly?
Because the mRNA vaccine is not new technology and has been studied for over a decade, including for the development of other vaccines such as the seasonal flu vaccine, researchers had a head start.
This is the first time scientists and governments from around the world have united to develop a vaccine. This global collaboration meant they could spend an enormous amount of time and money into developing the vaccines very quickly without taking any shortcuts in the necessary processes or compromising safety. This also meant that the various stages of research development happened at the same time.
What I can expect when I get the vaccine?
You can book through your GP or through vaccination centres:
- Book online through Book My Vaccine
- For a group booking, call the COVID Vaccination Healthline on 0800 28 29 26 (8am-8pm)
You will need to relax and sit still. Some find it helpful to listen to music, or you may choose to have a support person with you.
The vaccinator will then inject the vaccine into your arm. You can look away or close your eyes if you need to. You may feel a pinch or scratch when the needle goes in.
You’ll then be asked to get your second dose of the vaccine six weeks or more after your first dose.
Are there any side effects?
It is common to experience mild side effects, such as muscle aches, pain at the injection site or headaches.
These are more commonly reported after the second dose and are actually a sign that your body’s immune system is learning to fight the virus. They don’t last long and won’t stop you from having a second dose or going about your daily life.
There are some side effects that are more serious but very rare, like a severe allergic reaction or an inflammation of the heart. If you develop difficulty breathing, a racing heart, chest pain or feel faint immediately or in the days after the vaccine, you should seek medical attention.
The Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 guidance will provide you with the facts to help communicate with your community.
Here are links to some downloadable PDFs:
- Managing COVID-19 false and misleading information and scams
- Getting the COVID-19 vaccine if you’re between 12-15 years old
- COVID-19 vaccination: Get the facts
- Your COVID-19 vaccination: Everything you need to know
- Information and resource toolkit
If you see something about COVID-19 or the vaccine that doesn’t seem right or if it’s on social media, you can report it to the platform. Anything else can be reported to CERT NZ.
Working through vaccine hesitancy
Here is a range of resources available to inform people who are anxious about the vaccine.
- Nigel Latta, Dr Maia Brewerton and Dr Helen Petousis-Harris recently answered questions in a Facebook live event.
- Dr Ashley Bloomfield, Dr Nikki Turner, Dr Siouxsie Wiles and Dr Vanisi Prescott recently answered questions about the COVID-19 Vaccine, moderated by Mihingarangi Forbes.
- Mihingarangi Forbes sat down with Dr Hinemoa Elder to discuss some key concerns and hesitancies.
- Vax Facts with Māori Doctors: Dr Anthony Jordan, Dr Papaarangi Reid, Dr Rawiri McKree-Jansen, Dr Maia Brewerton (specialists and activists in Māori health) take phone calls from the Public about Covid and the Vaccine. (Most callers are unvaccinated.)
- Clinical psychologist Rachel Prebble explains how to talk to friends and whānau in this video create an opportunity for open, safe conversations which build trust and enable change over time
- A fun and informative item on the Hahana Facebook page with answers to lots of vaccine questions.
- A rangatahi panel with Dr Jason Tuhoe to kōrero about the vaccine from different perspectives (vaccinated, vaccine hesitant, wants to be vaccinated but whānau pressure not to).
- Watch a discussion between four health professionals where they share their thoughts, knowledge and experiences of the COVID vaccine in Straight Up with Dr. Lily Fraser – The Panel.
- Why some people struggle to change their minds about vaccination is a video and article in The Whole Truth series on Stuff.
- Talking to vaccine hesitant people – an article on the World Health Organization website, also available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, Portuguese and Spanish.
- A recent article in The Herald where University of Auckland vaccinologist Associate Professor Helen Petousis-Harris looks at 10 vaccine myths circulating on social media.
- In this The Spinoff article, Kate Hannah (a cultural historian at Te Pūnaha Matatini) shares some thoughts on how to talk to loved ones who are vaccine hesitant.
My COVID record
Anyone aged 16 and over can now access a record of their COVID-19 vaccinations through My Covid Record.
The records include details of the vaccinations you’ve had including date, time, location and batch number. You will initially need to register and create and account.
You can also request proof of your vaccination here.
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