14 Oct 2021

Covid-19: Nanogirl on how she fights vaccine hesitancy

From Morning Report, 7:56 am on 14 October 2021

Science teaching expert Michelle Dickinson says a lot of those she has spoken to are confident about getting a Covid-19 vaccination once their questions have been answered.

Dickinson, also known as Nanogirl, has has been running virtual Q and A sessions about the vaccine for teachers and school staff.

She told Morning Report some teachers were so alarmed about an incoming vaccine mandate they were considering sacrificing their careers.

But most of them just needed to hear more about how the vaccine was made.

"What we do in some of these workshops is literally break down the real basics. What is mRNA? How does the vaccine work? What clinical trials have been done? What do they do in those trials? When did those trials end? How many people were in them? " she said.

'Then we compare that to previous vaccines and people then go, 'oh, actually, it's gone through all the steps. We thought they skipped some because it came out so fast'.

"When you have these conversations, just explaining how vaccines are made, which most people don't know how any of their vaccines have ever been made, that they've ever taken, but now they have an interest, they go, 'Oh, this is interesting. I didn't know this, now I can take this information and make decisions based on this evidence that I now have'."

Using the example of somebody who would wait for Novavax instead of taking the Pfizer-made Covid-19 vaccination currently available in New Zealand, Dickinson said some may be nervous about mRNA technology.

"Because it sounds new they feel like it hasn't been tested yet, and therefore, they don't want to be a guinea pig.

"They don't think the safety testing has been done yet, and therefore, they'll wait for the old method, not understanding that the Novavax is actually still a new vaccine, it's just based on old technology."

Dickinson noted the Pfizer vaccine has gone passed all the necessary safety trials.