Prof Grant Schofield is Professor of Public Health at AUT University

First published in Facebook (1)

This post has taken me too long to get up the guts to write.

You see I’m a Professor in Public Health. One of the most important things in public health is “to do no harm”. Or at least in a more practical sense, have the good by far outweigh the harms you cause with whatever intervention you choose.

This is about vaccine mandates. It’s a complex and emotive issue.

The brutal truth is that there are no harm free choices here. All choices will have some harm.

But, deadlines are coming – here’s our Ministry of Health’s advice under public orders “Any health and disability workers (employed or voluntary, private and public) who fall under these roles must receive their first dose of the vaccine by 11.59pm 15 November 2021. They must receive their second dose by 1 January 2022.”

That’s Monday folks.

I’m not an “anti-vaxxer”. I’m fully vaccinated.

But some people will choose not to follow these orders for various reasons. Some of them may be logical based on the data that there is no protection beyond 200 days, and the data on reductions in transmission are limited, and they are concerned about adverse events.

We all make different decisions given similar data because we are all different and have different ways of weighing risks and benefits. They may see the futility of a public health system which would on current evidence have to boost every 120-150 days to maintain vaccine efficacy. Or maybe they just don’t like being told what to do, or have a more complex theory which may be spurious. Who really knows?

Anyway, the point is that there will always be a group who for whatever reason decides that, in this case, their bodily sovereignty, is sacred to them and they will refuse a public health order like this.

What this means is on Monday kids will turn up to school and their classroom teacher will no longer be there, that their mid-wife will no longer be working, that their doctor is no longer able to practice.

This will cause serious harm. It almost certainly will mean that our already overwhelmed health and education systems will not have the staff to carry out normal duties.

This debate has already caused substantial harm and division in our beautiful country.

I believe in the context of the recent Swedish data showing vaccine waning, that it’s now obvious to any thinking person the futility of these mandates.

We can predict that the exact thing we are trying to avoid “overwhelming the health system” is exactly what we are going to do by firing health workers.

What government puts on its own handcuffs on and throws away the key?

This isn’t us.

So sorry I can’t stand by silently and watch this. I have to say something.

I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to pluck up the courage.

Sorry if this upsets you, but come Monday I know of real teachers, real GPs, real mid-wives, real physios, real people without jobs. Real communities without their beloved teachers and health professionals who are here to care for them. These are my communities, my friends, my school.

These are mostly not lunatic fringe anti-vaxxers. They are people often making their own rationale decision. Yes its different than mine, but it is theirs.

I fear we are choosing more harm than good, and in my field that’s just not acceptable. In fact it’s unethical and immoral.

Please think about what your thoughts are on this matter. It is really an important one for our society right now. Saying nothing when you think there will be more harm than good is complicit in supporting that harm….

Thanks for reading this,

Grant Schofield PhD
Professor of Public Health

*disclaimer – these views are mine and don’t represent those of anyone else, including those who employ me.