Index: vaccination

All my writing on vaccines and vaccination

This post contains links to all my articles about vaccines and vaccination, including Covid-19 vaccines. Articles are listed in chronological order.

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The company of the dead

A series exploring childhood mortality, vaccination rates, vaccine risks and how to talk with the vaccine-hesitant.

The Turnstone
The company of the dead: part one
Just minutes from Parliament, tucked in between the motorway and the office of the Ministry of Education, is a part of the old Bolton Street Cemetery. For those who don’t mind the company of the dead, it’s a quiet refuge, a place to eat your lunch with the sun on your back and grass at your feet. There’s a seat I like there, just past the footbridge ove…
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The company of the dead: part two
On one of my many bookshelves, there’s a small, tatty book with the unlikely title “Pomp and Pestilence”. The dust jacket is plain, no illustration, just words and blocks of black, white and red. The font of the main title reminds me of the Nevil Shute novels I enjoyed reading some years ago – a clue to the age of the book, which was first published in …
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The company of the dead: part three
“You’re saying it’s a weed?” the woman says, incredulous, as if I’d just said that the pink-flowered vine had been planted by aliens from Mars. “But it’s so pretty. And the fruit’s delicious.” “Yes, it is,” I say, and I watch her expression change. She wasn’t expecting me to say that…
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Humility and hubris

Why Nigeria has succeeded in eradicating polio, and why Pakistan has not

The Turnstone
Humility and hubris
On the 25th of August, a day when the world saw more than 200,000 new Covid-19 cases and at least 4000 deaths, Africa celebrated a rare and hard-won victory in the fight against infectious disease – the eradication of wild polio. More than 30 years after the campaign began, the disease is not yet eradicated globally, as the wild form of the disease stil…
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Hope for normality

An article that looks at how vaccines, including messenger RNA vaccines, work.

The Turnstone
Hope for normality
Vaccines are the way out of this pandemic, but will people be willing to take them? I admit it – I’m one of those complacent people who weren’t scanning their QR codes with the NZ Covid Tracer app. At a guess, I had probably recorded only about 20% of the places I’d been, until last Sunday. Like many New Zealanders, I’m now doing a much better job, and I…
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Bolt from the blue

An article that looks at vaccine trials and the safety and efficacy of the Pfizer/ BioNTech vaccine against Covid-19.

The Turnstone
Bolt from the blue
At the very end of a 54 page briefing submitted to the USA Food and Drug Administration, there’s an intriguing sentence. The briefing summarises the results of all three phases of clinical trials on Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine. As you’d expect, it makes for tough reading – sentences stuffed with numbers, acronyms and words like efficacy. Most of the repo…
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The tipping point

An article looking at herd immunity, in the days before the Delta variant.

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The tipping point
There’s no doubt that countries which learned from previous disease outbreaks are among the most successful in handling Covid-19. Media accounts reporting the success of countries like Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea usually credit lessons learned during outbreaks of diseases such as SARS in 2003 and MERS in 2015. While New Zealand is definitely among…
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The GM dilemma and speed bumps

Genetically modified vaccines

The Turnstone
The GM dilemma
As if there wasn’t enough disease in the world already, Ebola has re-emerged in West Africa. Mostly, Ebola is a central African virus, with the vast majority of outbreaks confined to countries right in the middle of Africa – the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, South Sudan and Uganda. Prior to 2014, there had been only a single case originating in W…
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The Turnstone
Speed bumps
Plans to vaccinate the world against Covid-19 have had a setback in the last couple of weeks, with a number of countries suspending use of the Oxford/ AstraZeneca vaccine. This was not the first setback this vaccine encountered. Earlier, the French president Emmanual Macron had…
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Damned if you do

Two articles on blood clots associated with the Oxford/ AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines

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Damned if you do
A week is a long time in politics – and it can be a long time in a pandemic too. Last week, I talked about some very preliminary reports that there had been blood clots associated with a second Covid-19 vaccine, this one the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. But, by Wednesday, reports were coming in that…
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Damned if you don't
Over the last week, there have been further cases of blood clots associated with Covid-19 vaccines. For the Oxford/ AstraZeneca vaccine, the number of cases has reached 168, with 32 fatalities. The age range for people affected by the clots was 18-93 and more women than men were affected (93 women and 75 men). The numbers are starting to sound frighteni…
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Where have all the vaccines gone?

New Zealand seems to be at the back of the queue, but is that a bad thing?

The Turnstone
Where have all the vaccines gone?
On the radio, a couple of weeks back, I heard an extraordinary statistic about Covid-19 vaccines. Two thirds of the vaccine doses had been given in just three countries. That figure stuck in my mind, and made me wonder about what is happening with vaccine distribution around the world. I began asking questions about where the vaccines were going, who wa…
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The vanishing point

What does the Delta variant mean for our hopes of herd immunity?

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The vanishing point
As I write this, Australia is once again facing long lockdowns. The Covid-19 outbreak that gave Wellington a scare a few weeks back has escalated, with 1700 active cases and 5 deaths in Australia so far. Right now, I’m feeling truly grateful that my brother and his family made it back to New Zealand from Sydney when the bubble was open, and I’m feeling …
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Confidence, complacency and convenience

A series exploring why so many people are unvaccinated, and how we can help.

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Confidence, complacency and convenience
Listening to the international news right now is an odd experience. While New Zealand is once again locked down, many countries overseas are finally opening up. It’s the opposite of how things have been since June last year. New Zealanders have enjoyed concerts, sporting events and other massed gatherings, while the rest of the world has limped along wi…
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The Turnstone
Confidence, complacency and convenience: part two
Welcome to The Turnstone. I’m Melanie Newfield, and once a week I bring you my personal perspective on science, society and the environment. Before we get to this week’s article, I have an important announcement. New Zealand is reaching a critical point in its vaccination programme. While it’s great news that 75% of people have either been vaccinated or …
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