Rural round-up

12/10/2021

Reflective farming regenerates –  Sandra Taylor:

Canterbury’s Inverary Station has scrutinised its beef and sheep business with  outstanding results.  Sandra Taylor paid a visit to find out more.   

John Chapman calls it reflective farming.

The process examines every aspect of his hill country farming business, pulling it apart bit-by-bit to find the key to enabling the farm to reach its productive potential.

“If we look at our farms carefully enough, they have a lot that they are willing to tell us.” . . 

Pāmu ponders restrictions for unvaccinated staff – Maja Burry:

The state owned farmer Pāmu has said it may need to look at putting in place some restrictions for unvaccinated staff in the future.

Pāmu, formerly Landcorp, owns or operates about 110 farms around New Zealand. It has 647 employees including farmers, growers, marketers, supply chain managers and business experts.

Company spokesperson Simon King told RNZ while it did not have a view on the mandating of vaccines, it was aware there could be future issues on all farms, including Pāmu’s, with unvaccinated staff.

“In particular, the ability to operate farms if unvaccinated staff become infected and have to isolate, or if suppliers start to refuse to uplift product from farms with unvaccinated workers,” King said. . .

From ewe to you – Kirwee farmers launch new sheep milk poroducts :

A child with food allergies and dairy intolerance has led a Canterbury couple to start milking sheep.

Matt and Tracey Jones were so impressed by the difference sheep milk made for their daughter they embarked on their new venture and have since created a skincare range using the milk. The farming couple are about to unveil a range of bottled pasteurised milk and farm-made cheese.

The Jones milk about 600 sheep on the property. Just across from the milking platform they have built a milk processing and cheese-making factory.

Farm manager Juan Cavallotti is also the head cheesemaker. . .

Tulip tours in doubt but beauty assured – Shawn McAvinue:

An annual tour of the tulip fields will wilt this year if Southland remains in Alert Level 2, an event organiser says.

Tulip grower Triflor NZ was set to open its colourful fields in Edendale to thousands of people on Labour Day.

However, tour co-ordinator Jean Kirby, of Seaward Downs, said the event would only proceed if the South was in Level 1.

A final decision would be made on October 18, Mrs Kirby said. . . 

Kāpiti and Wairarapa sweep NZ Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards:

Kāpiti and Wairarapa Olive Oil makers have swept the annual New Zealand Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards, winning all of the five major awards for Olive Oil Excellence.

The New Zealand Olive Oil Awards began in 2000 and recognise excellence in New Zealand Extra Virgin Olive Oils (NZ EVOO). The winners were announced tonight at the Olives NZ 2021 Award Ceremony.

The top awards were as follows: . . 

Rubia Gallega, the new premium beef coming to fine-dining restaurants – Warwick Long:

Tall, strong, cinnamon to orange in colour and a “nice sexy name” are the attributes of an animal that a beef industry pioneer believes will be the latest thing on the menu at Australia’s best restaurants.

The new breed of cattle is David Blackmore’s “retirement” plan. He was the mastermind behind premium Wagyu cattle in Australia.

Mr Blackmore’s Wagyu meat, grown on farms in north-east Victoria has sold for more than $500 per kilogram and appeared on luxury menus around Australia and the world, including in the home of Wagyu, Japan.

His latest project is a breed of cattle that he has imported into Australia called, Rubia Gallega. . . 


Numbers show the vaxed are safer

15/09/2021

What’s the point of getting vaccinated?

Unvaccinated New Zealanders are disproportionately represented among new Covid-19 cases and hospitalisations in the community outbreak, in a pattern that mirrors trends overseas.

More than 82 percent of the Delta cases found as of Monday have been unvaccinated. An even higher proportion of those in hospital were unvaccinated.

That’s close to double the 42.8 percent of the general population that isn’t vaccinated. Receiving both doses of the vaccine is more effective as well, with just one fully vaccinated person ending up in hospital, alongside 15 people who had received one shot. 

Almost 30 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated and 28 percent have had one dose.

On these numbers, an unvaccinated person is 119 times more likely to end up in hospital than a fully vaccinated person and eight times more likely than someone who had received one shot.

But these numbers might not be telling the fully story. Vaccinologist Helen Petousis-Harris says it can take a couple of weeks after the vaccine is administered to reach full efficacy.

“You’ve got to allow time for that injection to take effect. It’s not instantaneous as soon as it’s administered, it takes a period of time for the body to have that immune response,” she said.

“Two weeks after the second dose, you start hitting a peak antibody response.”

On that basis, a full 95.9 percent of those in hospital had been unvaccinated two weeks prior to testing positive. Just four had received a single shot at least two weeks before they were tested and none were fully vaccinated. . . 

Anti vaxers and the vaccine hesitant argue that being vaccinated doesn’t stop you getting Covid-19.

No-one claims that any of the vaccines give 100% protection but these numbers show that partial vaccination provides some protection, and that the fully vaccinated are much less likely to get the disease and that if they do they are much less likely to need hospital treatment.

The internet makes it very easy to get sucked down the rabbit hole of misinformation and anti-vaxers are unlikely to be moved by the facts.

But dare we hope that the vaccine hesitant might be convinced and heed the call to get vaccinated. Doing so will help us get enough people protected to lessen the likelihood of future lockdowns or at least reduce their severity with all the impacts on physical and emotional health, and the social and their economic costs.


I don’t know but Dr does

24/08/2021

Some people are against all vaccines.

Some aren’t anti all vaccines but are hesitant about some or all of the ones that offer some protection from Covid-19.

I am not one of those. I’ve been vaccinated against a lot of diseases, most recently Covid-19.

I’ve had both jabs and will accept a booster if it’s offered in a few months time:
* To not die from Covid-19.
* To not clutter a hospital bed if I get sick.
* To hug my vaccinated family and friends.
* To be able to go to functions, events and places from which unvaccinated people will be restricted.
* To be free to travel domestically and internationally.
* To live my life.
* To know that children can go back to school, participate in cultural performances and play sport.
* For Covid-19 to be more of a minor nuisance than a potentially life-endangering threat.
* To live in a country where businesses and jobs won’t be at risk from repeated lockdowns.
* To play my part in protecting other people and the health system which is overwhelmed at the best of times.

I have read quite a lot about the vaccine but don’t have the scientific or medical knowledge to understand it all. I know even less about the vaccines I had as a child, the boosters I’ve had since, the ones I’ve had before travelling, and the medicines and anesthetics I’ve had from my GPs or in hospital.

I also don’t know what’s in over the counter medication I’ve taken for colds, ‘flu, allergies and other ailments, nor do I know what’s in processed food I buy or make-up I use.

There’s a lot of things I don’t know but I do know that life is short, very short, so I still want to do something other than staying cloistered at home or doing what staying in the farm-bubble allows. I still want to spend time with family and friends, travel and go to events without fear, find a little feeling of life “before”.

I’ve been vaccinated for mumps, measles, rubella, polio, tetanus and whooping cough.  More recently I’ve had boosters for some of those and had several other vaccines before I’ve travelled. I trusted the science for those and never had to suffer through or transmit any of the diseases from which they protected me.

Of course, those other vaccines have been around for a lot longer than the Covid-19 ones, but at some stage they were new and most people accepted the risk from taking them was less than the risk of becoming ill without their protection.

Yesterday morning I was on a Zoom call with a doctor in Houston who said Covid-19 is still raging in the USA and that children’s hospitals in particular are being overwhelmed. He said it was the unvaccinated who were most seriously ill.

That is the experience of  Dr Anita Sircar who is running out of compassion for the unvaccinated:

My patient sat at the edge of his bed gasping for air while he tried to tell me his story, pausing to catch his breath after each word. The plastic tubes delivering oxygen through his nose hardly seemed adequate to stop his chest from heaving. He looked exhausted.

He had tested positive for the coronavirus 10 days ago. He was under 50, mildly hypertensive but otherwise in good health. Eight days earlier he started coughing and having severe fatigue. His doctor started him on antibiotics. It did not work.

Fearing his symptoms were worsening, he started taking some hydroxychloroquine he had found on the internet. It did not work.

He was now experiencing shortness of breath while doing routine daily activities such as walking from his bedroom to the bathroom or putting on his shoes. He was a shell of his former self. He eventually made his way to a facility where he could receive monoclonal antibodies, a lab-produced transfusion that substitutes for the body’s own antibodies. It did not work.

He finally ended up in the ER with dangerously low oxygen levels, exceedingly high inflammatory markers and patchy areas of infection all over his lungs. Nothing had helped. He was getting worse. He could not breathe. His wife and two young children were at home, all infected with the virus. He and his wife had decided not to get vaccinated.

Last year, a case like this would have flattened me. I would have wrestled with the sadness and how unfair life was. Battled with the angst of how unlucky he was. This year, I struggled to find sympathy. It was August 2021, not 2020. The vaccine had been widely available for months in the U.S., free to anyone who wanted it, even offered in drugstores and supermarkets. Cutting-edge, revolutionary, mind-blowing, lifesaving vaccines were available where people shopped for groceries, and they still didn’t want them.

Outside his hospital door, I took a deep breath — battening down my anger and frustration — and went in. I had been working the COVID-19 units for 17 months straight, all day, every day. I had cared for hundreds of COVID patients. We all had, without being able to take breaks long enough to help us recover from this unending ordeal. Compassion fatigue was setting in. For those of us who hadn’t left after the hardest year of our professional lives, even hope was now in short supply.

Shouting through my N95 mask and the noise of the HEPA filter, I introduced myself. I calmly asked him why he decided not to get vaccinated.

“Well, I’m not an anti-vaxxer or anything. I was just waiting for the FDA to approve the vaccine first. I didn’t want to take anything experimental. I didn’t want to be the government’s guinea pig, and I don’t trust that it’s safe,” he said.

“Well,” I said, “I can pretty much guarantee we would have never met had you gotten vaccinated, because you would have never been hospitalized. All of our COVID units are full and every single patient in them is unvaccinated. Numbers don’t lie. The vaccines work.”

This was a common excuse people gave for not getting vaccinated, fearing the vaccine because the Food and Drug Administration had granted it only emergency use authorization so far, not permanent approval. Yet the treatments he had turned to — antibiotics, monoclonal antibodies and hydroxychloroquine — were considered experimental, with mixed evidence to support their use.

The only proven lifesaver we’ve had in this pandemic is a vaccine that many people don’t want. A vaccine we give away to other countries because supply overwhelms demand in the U.S. A vaccine people in other countries stand in line for hours to receive, if they can get it at all. . . 

The patient accepted medication that had only recently been approved by the FDA and used far less widely than Covid vaccines. It was too late. He died.

So will many more who choose not to be protected by the vaccine.

The burden of this pandemic now rests on the shoulders of the unvaccinated. On those who are eligible to get vaccinated but choose not to, a decision they defend by declaring, “Vaccination is a deeply personal choice.” But perhaps never in history has anyone’s personal choice affected the world as a whole as it does right now. When hundreds and thousands of people continue to die — when the most vulnerable members of society, our children, cannot be vaccinated — the luxury of choice ceases to exist.

If you believe the pandemic is almost over and I can ride it out, without getting vaccinated, you could not be more wrong. This virus will find you.

If you believe I’ll just wait until the FDA approves the vaccine first, you may not live to see the day.

If you believe if I get infected I’ll just go to the hospital and get treated, there is no guarantee we can save your life, nor even a promise we’ll have a bed for you.

If you believe I’m pregnant and I don’t want the vaccine to affect me, my baby or my future fertility, it matters little if you’re not alive to see your newborn.

If you believe I won’t get my children vaccinated because I don’t know what the long-term effects will be, it matters little if they don’t live long enough for you to find out.

If you believe I’ll just let everyone else get vaccinated around me so I don’t have to, there are 93 million eligible, unvaccinated people in the “herd” who think the same way you do and are getting in the way of ending this pandemic.

If you believe vaccinated people are getting infected anyway, so what’s the point?, the vaccine was built to prevent hospitalizations and deaths from severe illness. Instead of fatal pneumonia, those with breakthrough infections have a short, bad cold, so the vaccine has already proved itself. The vaccinated are not dying of COVID-19.

SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has mutated countless times during this pandemic, adapting to survive. Stacked up against a human race that has resisted change every step of the way — including wearing masks, social distancing, quarantining and now refusing lifesaving vaccines — it is easy to see who will win this war if human behavior fails to change quickly.

The most effective thing you can do to protect yourself, your loved ones and the world is to GET VACCINATED.

And it will work.

Covid-19 vaccines offer pretty good protection and there’s plenty of evidence to show that people who are vaccinated are a lot less likely to be seriously ill if they do become infected.

No vaccine is 100% effective but the more people are vaccinated against Covid-19, the more protection we all have from lockdowns and an overburdened health system.


People die without vaccines

03/10/2018

A child has died from polio in Papua New Guinea.

The polio vaccine has been around for decades and the disease has almost been eliminated because of that – partly due to the efforts of Rotary.

Rotary, along with our partners, has reduced polio cases by 99.9 percent worldwide since our first project to vaccinate children in the Philippines in 1979. We are close to eradicating polio, but we need your help. Whether you have a few minutes or a few hours, here are some ways to make a global impact and protect children against polio forever. . .

Meanwhile, in New Zealand, anti-vaccers put up a billboard near Middlemore Hospital saying if you knew The ingredients in a vaccine would you risk it?:

An anti-vaccination billboard alongside Auckland’s southern motorway which prompted more than 140 complaints is being pulled, the day after it was erected. . .

Immunisation Advisory Centre research director Dr Helen Petousis-Harris said the billboard perpetuated the myth there are concealed issues with what’s in vaccines, which is “most unhelpful and quite untrue”.

“It’s absolutely misleading
.”

Petousis-Harris said the billboard had the potential to “hugely” impact public health, and said its placement in south Auckland targets vulnerable communities who “bear the biggest burden of these infectious diseases
“. . .

Petousis-Harris said it was important to clarify that when people talk about chemicals in vaccines, these are chemicals present in the environment that we come into contact with daily, and that we are born with in our bodies.

The chemicals in vaccines – just like in our mother’s breast milk – are in minuscule amounts and pose no safety risk whatsoever to humans and animals in those quantities, with the exception of course of an allergic reaction.” .. .

A very few people might have an allergic reaction to a vaccine.

The rest of us should have vaccines for our own sakes and to provide herd immunity which protects people who are too young to be fully vaccinated or the few who for medical reasons are unable to have them.

 


One in a million

11/05/2017

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says more than one million doses of this year’s seasonal influenza vaccine have now been distributed.

“A recent New Zealand study showed that most people infected with influenza in 2015 didn’t experience any symptoms, but could still have spread the virus without realising it,” says Dr Coleman.

“By being immunised, we not only protect ourselves, but we help to ensure we don’t pass on influenza to our families, friends and colleagues.

That’s a point people who think they don’t need to be vaccinated often miss.

“This is the sixth year in a row where more than a million doses have been distributed. Most influenza immunisation takes place in late autumn, as such we expect to reach our target of 1.2 million doses by early August.”

It takes up to two weeks for the vaccine to start providing protection, so immunisation is recommended before the beginning of winter. . .

I am one of those in the million plus who have had the jab, so’s my farmer and most of our staff for whom we reimburse the cost.

We encourage our staff to get vaccinated for their own sakes and that of the rest of us.

Flu is a serious illness. Vaccines aren’t 100% effective but they’re more effective than any other anti-flu measures.

 


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