SunLive         

Covid pamphlet causes “heartbreaking” decision

Harrison Crane and his family eventually talked his grandparents into getting vaccinated. Photo. John Borren/SunLive.

Pāpāmoa resident Harrison Crane was left raging earlier this year when his grandparents were swayed by Covid-19 vaccine misinformation mail-dropped in their Ohauiti letterbox.

They had decided simply avoiding the outside world was now preferable to getting the vaccine, a decision he describes as “heartbreaking”.

It has taken a family effort to eventually convince his grandparents to get vaccinated and Harrison is sharing their story in hope of helping others who may have vulnerable family members.

Harrison’s grandparents received a full page pamphlet detailing supposed ‘facts’ about Covid-19 vaccinations earlier this year.

Harrison says the pamphlet was effective enough for his grandparents to decide they would avoid getting the Pfizer vaccine, currently approved for use in New Zealand.

“They were going on about how they would refuse getting Covid vaccinations, and would be content with staying in their home going forward, up until passing,” he says.

“That’s heartbreaking, all because of a bogus publication with dangerous misinformation.”

Knowing how the leaflet had swayed his grandparents left Harrison feeling frustrated, but not at them.

“It made me feel very angry, simply put,” he says.

“Not at my grandparents. Angry at whomever distributed this leaflet and thought they were doing a good or life-saving public service.”

He says people like his grandparents are more vulnerable, as they are more reliant on local and community publications, so are likelier to believe information posted in their letterbox.

“It’s easy enough for people like you and me to take a look at such hogwash and dismiss it immediately, but for someone older something like this is extremely detrimental to them and those around them,” he explains.

“It can cause a domino effect and sway people to their extreme view and endanger others, completely out of their control.”

The Covid-19 vaccination programme in New Zealand is set to accelerate, with people in Group 4 now being invited for vaccination.

With that, comes a rise in potentially misleading information both online and in physical form.

The Bay of Plenty District Health Board is advising people to ensure they are using the right resources to find information about the vaccination programme.

“It’s important to use trusted sources such as www.covid19.govt.nz, www.health.govt.nz and www.bopdhb.health.nz/vaccine to check for information on the Covid-19 vaccine,” says BOPDHB Covid-19 incident controller Trevor Richardson.

“We encourage people to use these credible sources when you discuss the vaccine with your friends and whānau.”

Leaflet drops like the ones Harrison describes have been seen across the country and in June the organisation Voices for Freedom had six of eight claims on a widely distributed pamphlet discounted by the Advertising Standards Authority.

Whilst the leaflets Harrison came across were not from the same group, he says they peddled similar information.

He also came across similar leaflets placed on car windshields in Tauranga from a different organisation. A scan of their website highlights discounted medical treatments as well as US election rigging allegations.  

Harrison believes with more vulnerable members of the community, more likely to believe something in print, all that is needed is the seed of doubt before a decision, such as choosing not to get vaccinated, can be made and is done so with misleading information to hand.

He wants to raise awareness of the issue, so other members of the community know what to do when literature of this kind finds its way into someone else’s mailbox or car windshield, or loved ones find themselves swayed by such information.

“Talk, and talk as soon as you can,” says Harrison, when explaining how his family managed to talk his grandparents back round.

“What worked for us is understanding their concerns, and being there with answers that are reasonable, and explainable. Stepping through with them with publicly released information from the government, like case numbers, total vaccine doses compared to the minimal adverse reactions, is a starting point.

“You, however, should never let them drift away into their own sphere of misinformation, as one rabbit hole, leads to another.

“Another option that might help is suggesting them to book an appointment with a doctor or nurse and talking through it with them.”

You should not just “bin the garbage", he points out. Instead, questionable literature can be reported to CERT NZ.

The BOPDHB also encourages people who find any information they receive which could be misinforming to report it to the relevant channels.

“Inaccurate information about the Covid-19 vaccine, whether intentional, or accidental, could seriously impact the immunisation programme,” says Trevor.

“People can report instances of misinformation, whether online, by email, phone or in a physical document to the government agency CERT NZ by visiting www.cert.govt.nz  

“If you have questions about the vaccine, I encourage you to email our clinical team at ask.covidvax@bopdhb.govt.nz.”

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21 Comments


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@Slim Shady

Posted on 30-07-2021 00:55 | By morepork

I have much sympathy for what you wrote but we digress on the statement that: "It’s just a personal choice that is nothing to do with anybody else and has no bearing on anybody else." Unfortunately, that is axiomatically untrue. Your right to have or not have it is definitely personal, but your decision DOES affect other people. The only way the vaccination can work for the NATION (rather than just for individuals), is if a large number of people get it. If you are vaccinated, you not only cannot get the virus (or, if you can it will not be anywhere near as bad), but you CAN’T GIVE IT TO ANYONE ELSE! If you DON’T get it, then the opposite is the case, so your decision DOES affect other people. Even amidst all the fog, nonsense and downright dangerous stuff circulating, the RIGHT decision is to get the ja

@Kancho

Posted on 30-07-2021 00:40 | By morepork

In my parent’s generation if a Doctor told you to stand on your head and turn clockwise widdershins three times a day, you did it. Doctors were educated and the general public wasn’t. Times have changed. WE know more and the Medical profession knows a GREAT DEAL more. Science has advanced in quantum leaps and we see miracles every day. We are capable of making much better informed decisions than was once the case. And yet, many of us don’t. We accept the media as the message (if it’s on TV or in the paper, or tweeted or Facebooked, or in a glossy pamphlet in your letterbox, it must be true), which Marshall McLuhan warned us about back in the 60’s. Nowadays, more and more Doctors are working together with their patients to empower the patient to be responsible for their own health decisions. Doctor provides advice and support.

@That's nice.

Posted on 30-07-2021 00:14 | By morepork

You ask a fair question: Where can you get reliable information? The manufacturer has a bias, but they still have to give accurate specifications and known side effects. As Slim says, Government information COULD be politicized and biased. You have to judge that for yourself. I believe the best bet is Health professionals who have no dog in the fight; I would believe proper published paper from The Mayo Clinic and The World Health Organization (although some of the funding for the WHO is definitely Political...) Dr. Ashley Blumfeld may be a Government employee, but I believe he has integrity and I tend to believe his figures and statements. I don’t believe the Government is seeking to bring us into submission and if they were, a virus/vaccine would not be the way to do it. Our Democracy IS under threat but it was BEFORE Covid. Our own decisions decide.

Think about it.

Posted on 30-07-2021 00:02 | By morepork

And decide for yourself. If everyone in the country was vaccinated, and the vaccine was 100% effective, we could resume normality and Covid would be no threat to ANYONE. The Pfizer jab is over 95% effective but we will be lucky to get 60% vaccinated. Yet, if you decide to get it, you are not only helping yourself, you are helping everyone else, even the one’s who don’t get it. Hopefully, as the fog of war is dissipated by reality, and more people get it, without any of the dire consequences being predicted in some quarters, opinion will swing. I got mine yesterday; within a couple of hours I had a sore arm which has progressively become less uncomfortable and certainly did not require painkillers. I expect to be swimming tomorrow and my life will be as "normal". Not a high price for peace of mind regarding it.

Don't confuse science and politics.

Posted on 29-07-2021 23:49 | By morepork

Covid is a health problem and it should never be allowed to become a political football. And yet, all over the world it has become so. Certainly, no-one can MAKE you have a vaccination because that would be an unacceptable violation of your rights. But forcing you into isolation, for a limited period, under temporary legislation, in order to physically prevent spread of a lethal virus, is NOT an unacceptable violation of your rights; it is simply a shared annoyance and inconvenience, that is designed to protect the majority of the population. We isolated and eliminated Smallpox by making vaccination a requirement for overseas travel. That is not the same as MAKING you have a jab. If you really believe the nonsense being talked, then don’t have a jab. But don’t bleat about not being able to travel. The science is good. The politics, not so much.

There's A New Saying Slim.

Posted on 29-07-2021 17:15 | By Justin T.

"Don’t believe everything you read online and question everything you see." And I’m including everything from News Media to Joe Average Blogging about everything as if they have all the facts, numbers and details. Do the research and holes appear everywhere.

So many assertions

Posted on 29-07-2021 15:53 | By R. Bell

and incorrect assumptions Slim. I do note that you didn’t answer any questions. Not surprising given your continual attempts to undermine the rule of Government at every opportunity. The single most damaging assertion you make is that your tardiness in refusing the vax does not have a bearing on my and other peoples health. That is unadulterated rubbish. It is shown around the world that covid is the single most transmittable disease in circulation. The vax is effective in radically reducing the need for intensive hospital care, care which ties up hospital facilities and staff from other patients, many who then go on to die. That is covid related death. But you don’t seem to care as long as you can have your personal rant against politicians and any authority but your own. Get vaccinated.

For Pity Sake Slim.

Posted on 29-07-2021 13:25 | By Justin T.

The best way to control people in this situation is to keep them locked down. The vaccinations return freedom. Common sense people. Don’t be one of these people who follow and accept online declarations without using some analytical thought. So Slim, tell us in a logical step by step process how this government is going to control us by vaccinations. We’re waiting????

My body my choice

Posted on 29-07-2021 12:57 | By

Famous words that don’t seem to be allowed for an experimental vax. No long term analysis. Why not a focus on the real treatments that are available ? Lets hope there are no long terms affects for those the join the experiment. @ R Bell, man you sure dont have a clue what Democracy is.

Love it, Bell

Posted on 29-07-2021 12:31 | By

Aren’t you the one who supports civil disobedience, protest and militancy when it comes to all things Maori? Yet now you accuse people who choose not to be vaccinated against a cold virus “anarchists” and anti democracy!! That’s a beauty.

Laughable

Posted on 29-07-2021 12:21 | By

So much ranting to respond to. The media is totally biased. They report what they think will secure funding and revenue. And history has shown they change direction on a dime. There’s an old saying, “don’t believe everything you read in the papers”. Very true. You seem to think that if someone chooses not to be vaccinated it has any relevance to you. It doesn’t. And choosing not to be vaccinated is no more anarchic than those choosing to, is to be brainwashed. It’s just a personal choice that is nothing to do with anybody else and has no bearing on anybody else. Certainly not with Covid or you would be ranting about people who don’t have flu jabs too. Regarding scientists - there are hundreds of thousands of very highly qualified scientists who have not subscribed to narrative being fed. So which scientists do we listen to?

So many questions Bell

Posted on 29-07-2021 12:02 | By

If you read what I put I am not anti vax per se. It may well be super. I’ve had vaccines. I don’t even suggest there’s a “conspiracy”, unless you count it coming out of a lab in China, with man made elements. But that is now more accepted than not by many scientists. The virus has been used by Governments to achieve political objectives. From its inception and release in China, in response to economic sanctions, to trying to suppress out of control illegal immigration in Europe and US, climate change policies and everything in between. It has been a convenient cover to try and get a grip on billions of people who do not revere Politicians, Governments, Monarchy or Democracy. You may not have noticed the total disenfranchisement of billions of people around the world because you don’t have any views outside of little NZ.

@ Kancho

Posted on 29-07-2021 11:05 | By

Spot on mate!!

@ Kancho

Posted on 29-07-2021 10:56 | By

Excellent. Well stated.

Perhaps

Posted on 29-07-2021 10:44 | By R. Bell

Slim Shady can explain how a vaccination against a deadly disease is being used for political purposes, how has my and my families vaccination against covid 19 diminished my freedom? How has the unbiased reporting undertaken by responsible media brainwashed or scared me in any way? Any kind of anarchy is non democratic especially the denigration of medical science and government in a pandemic. Unless of course we think of the science denying government of Trump.

So yo don't trust the medical profession?

Posted on 29-07-2021 10:15 | By Kancho

You take medication, you rush to get cancer treatment without any qualms even though side effects are bad. Yet you know so much more than doctors and scientists. Everyday we accept scientific advances often unknowing , no problem . We know so many deseases no long cause problems because of vaccination but we know more ? We live longer but this is opinion not facts? The world leaders, from the queen down line up to be vaccinated yet they are plotting to lie to us ? Every year I get a flu jab, I live because of medical interventions. Don’t expect me to give any credence to your half baked conspiracy .

Get the jab.

Posted on 29-07-2021 09:56 | By R. Bell

There is no such thing as opinion when it comes to factual history. Vaccination has helped the world to virtually rid itself of deadly disease. This is different only in that it has happened in record time, which is testament to the ability of science to react to a desperate need. Harrisons rage is understandable, the fools who make up the conspiracy world are simply selfish, anti authority no hopers who don’t understand the social contract we all live by in a democracy. Get immunised.

Chickens

Posted on 29-07-2021 09:55 | By

If you look back through history it is proven that time and again the biggest liars, conspiracists and spreaders of misinformation are Governments and Politicians. It’s ironic that anybody who dissents from the narrative they set are called spreaders of misinformation and conspiracy theorists. It may be the best vaccine or not. I wouldn’t know. But I know the whole thing has been used by Governments for political purposes, control and suppression of freedoms. They, and the media, have tried to brainwash and scaremonger so I for one, am not playing their game by having it.

Oh......so there is not allowed

Posted on 29-07-2021 09:23 | By Bruja

to be any other ’information’ for people to make up their own minds about being vaccinated. It’s the ’official’ information only. Any other opinions, information is not permitted. Is this still New Zealand or some ’Total Control Land’?

Misinformation or.......?

Posted on 29-07-2021 08:08 | By

Misinformation or a difference of opinion? The so called misinformation might very well turn out to be correct in time. I have listened to both for and against the vaccination and both have their merits which has left me undecided. Where exactly do you get "Facts" from these days and who to trust?

Vac Jab

Posted on 29-07-2021 07:48 | By Local Too

One thing to consider is that this vaccines final results wont be in until 2023 so in the mean time you take this at your own risk.