Kiwi immunologist: Covid jab 'safest vaccine I've ever seen'

Source: 1News

A top immunologist has reassured Kiwis uncertain about the Covid-19 vaccination it is one of the safest he has ever seen.

Professor Graham Le Gros spoke to Breakfast on Wednesday morning as Kiwis continue to turn out in force to get vaccinated a month after the outbreak of the Delta variant in Auckland.

To date, 4,762,679 vaccines have been administered of which 3,118,082 are first doses - a positive first step in New Zealand's latest response to the coronavirus, Le Gros said.

"The way we eliminate this virus is vaccination," Le Gros said.

For Kiwis still uncertain about the jab though, Le Gros offered some words of comfort from his professional point of view.

"This vaccine is the safest vaccine I've ever seen," he said.

Le Gros' confidence in the vaccine comes from seeing the "rigerous" testing and monitoring it has undergone since being released, he said.

The vaccine is monitored both globally by health authorities who report on it. He says providers also do interior testing while also seeing if there are any effects for numerous demographics including the elderly and those with asthma.

"It drives a scientist like me nuts with how rigorous [testing the vaccine] is," Le Gros said.

"It doesn't just stop with looking at the data once, they are forever monitoring in what they call 'phase four' of the trial."

Aotearoa is just short of 700,000 New Zealanders being fully vaccinated, or about 17 percent of the eligible population.

Despite the constant monitoring, De Gros conceded there is misinformation spreading about the vaccine through numerous channels making it more difficult for New Zealand to hit its vaccination targets.

It's an issue Dr Vanisi Prescott has been trying to tackle on social media with informative videos on platforms such as Tik Tok, but she told Breakfast it's an uphill battle.

"It's heartbreaking seeing our most vulnerable communities being effected by this misinformation," Prescott said.

"There's so much misinformation out there and it's difficult to decipher what information to actually listen to.

"The issue with social media is that it doesn't differentiate truth from rumour and it's become such an issue that it's caused a lot of animosity and division as well as anxiety and fear among our people."

Prescott said she understands people have their reasons if they choose not to get vaccinated but misinformation from social media shouldn't be one of them.

"Social media masks the fact that there have been a vast majority of studies and medical opinion out there to confirm that this is a safe vaccine and good for all of us.

"Try not to rely on what we see out there but trust in sources or people you trust in like your GP."

Prescott added she has extra motivation for informing those who are both vulnerable to the virus and misinformation.

"With me being a Tongan GP, I stand firmly in terms of my culture and my values and that is to respect, love and care for my patients - I wouldn't be standing in front of everyone advocating for a vaccine if we didn't know it was safe.

"We're on your team and we're willing to help."

The pair said empowering those questioning the vaccine to make an informed decision for their friends and family as well as themselves is key to battling misinformation.

"Health literacy is a major issue we're facing as well," Prescott said.