3.2 Socio Scientific Issue

Assessment Information



  • You will research the topic of COVID vaccines.

  • Your research will summarize findings from all over the world to inform your opinion and action about the potential use of the COVID vaccine in NZ.

Read the Assessment Booklet below to understand what you are expected to research for your report, and what you are expected to submit for each checkpoint and final submission.

Read the Success Criteria below to understand what is required for Achieved, Merit, and Excellence.

WHAT do I submit?

Resources Summaries
(5 summaries in total)

Draft report

Final report (3500 words max).

A reference list to show the sources of your information

Authentication sheet

WHERE do I submit?

13BIO Global Google Classroom - ‘3.2 Resource Summaries’

13BIO Global Google Classroom - '3.2 Report'

13BIO Global Google Classroom - '3.2 Report'

Submitted at the end of your final report on Google Classroom, titled ‘Reference list’

Complete the Google Form titled ‘3.2 Authenticity’ when you have submitted your final draft. Your report will be checked against the Google Originality Report criteria.

WHEN do I submit?

Wednesday 14th April 2021, 11:59PM

Wednesday 5th May 2021, 11:59PM

Monday 10th May 2021, 11:59PM

Monday 10th May 2021, 11:59PM

Monday 10th May 2021, 11:59PM

3.2 assessment resource TO VAX OR NOT VAX 2021
DRAFT 3.2 Success Criteria TO VAX 2021

Colleen Higgins Lectures

The first lecture is about the following topics. Please watch the video and refer to the lecture slides below.

  • COVID-19 (01:18)

  • What is a virus? (09:53)

  • SARS-CoV-2 (13:46)

  • The immune response (23:57)

  • Vaccination & the immune response (27:17)

  • Herd immunity (38:12)

MRGS_COVID talk_2021.pptx

This second lecture is about the Ethics of vaccines.

Section 1: Biological Concepts

Assessment Criteria: Describe how vaccines work and how they are created (Achieved).

In this section, you could include the following:

  • Describe the life cycle of the coronavirus.

  • Describe how the immune system functions. Antigens, antibodies, and immune cells. Innate immunity vs adaptive immunity.

  • Describe what a vaccine is and how a vaccine works. Steps in creating a vaccine. Different types of vaccines. Effect of a vaccine on the immune system.

Life Cycle fo SARS-CoV

Coronavirus 19 (COVID-19) disease is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The use of Comirnaty vaccine by Pfizer/BioNTech in New Zealand could be an example you use in your report. In order to understand how this vaccine, and vaccines in general work, it's important to understand how the coronavirus hijacks a cell.

To reproduce, the SARS-CoV family of RNA viruses hijack the host cell's machinery to translate viral RNA into viral proteins. These viral proteins assemble into new viruses and are released into the host to infect more cells.

John Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. Recommended.

Function of the Immune System

The immune system is a a system of responses activated when pathogens enter the body. The first line of defence in the immune system is physical barriers like your skin and the mucosal lining in your respiratory tract.

If the pathogens get past this first line of defence, the immune system works to identify and removes these pathogens from our body.

White blood cells work together with other memory cells to make antibodies that fight pathogens. Your immune system will also create memory cells so when the same pathogen attacks in the future, these cells quickly identify and terminate them. However, this process takes time as specific antibodies are needed for different antigens.

Summary of the cells responsible for innate and adaptive immunity. Recommended.

Explore different types of immune cells of the innate and adaptive immunity. Very easy to follow and understand.

Explore how your immune system’s vast network of cells, tissues, and organs coordinate your body’s defenses against bacteria, viruses and toxins.

Different types and functions of immune cells.

Explore the different types of immune cells and their different jobs during an infection.

Resource specific to COVID-19

Chowdhury, M (2019). Immune response in COVID-19.pdf

How do Vaccines Work?

Vaccines aim to prevent an individual from succumbing to a disease by provoking and utilising the body’s natural immune system. Vaccines train the adaptive immune system to identify and fight off pathogens.

A dead pathogen, a weakened pathogen or part of a pathogen are inserted in the body to create an immune response, without causing any harm to the individual.

These dead pathogens are sufficient to convince our immune system that a threatening pathogen has entered, triggering our white blood cells to produce antibodies that can quickly defeat the microbe. Some of these white blood cells also produce memory cells.

If someone is subsequently infected by the pathogen you were vaccinated against. These memory cells allow our body to quickly disable or kill that pathogen before you they can replicate and make someone sick.

History of vaccines, how they work, and social implications. Recommended.

What vaccines are and how they work. Herd immunity.

How vaccines work

Story of technological advances to make viruses; a focus on mRNA vaccines.

Discusses what vaccines are and how they work. Herd immunity, and weighing risks vs. benefits. Recommended.

Steps into making a vaccine.

Resources specific to COVID-19

Both videos above and below are about how mRNA COVID-19 vaccines work. Both recommended.

How scientists have already developed more than one safe & effective vaccine. This video focuses on one group of scientists that made this happen.

Good video on how mRNA COVID vaccines work to neutralise the virus. Recommended.

How the mRNA COVID vaccines are made.

Explanation of efficacy rates of COVID-19 vaccines.

Section 2: Biological & Social Implications

Assessment Criteria: Describe one biological implication of vaccinating populations (Achieved).

Compare the significance of biological implications of using vaccines to prevent COVID-19 in NZ (Excellence).

In this section, you could include the following:

  • Describe the efficacy rates and effectiveness of vaccines. How protected are people who are vaccinated? Can vaccinated people still transmit COVID-19?

  • Describe what herd immunity is, and why it is important.

  • Describe the side effects of vaccines.

Are vaccines effective?

Vaccine efficacy and effectiveness are measures that compare the rates of disease between vaccinated and unvaccinated people. No vaccine is 100% effective, a small percentage of people are not protected after vaccination and for others the protection may wane over time. Also, some people are unable to be vaccinated due to certain conditions such as immune suppression (e.g. due to cancer treatments). Maintaining immunity in those around these people protects them from disease.

It is also important to consider that the duration of immunity/protection provided by vaccines is different for each vaccine and each pathogen (see this page by The Immunisation Advisory Centre).

Highly recommended resource, all about Pfizer/BioNTech's mRNA vaccine called Comirnaty.

World Health Organisation page on frequently asked questions, including vaccine safety.

What is Herd Immunity? Why is it Important?

Not everyone in a population can be vaccinated eg: very young children, immunocompromised individuals. But if we vaccinate everyone else who has the ability to get vaccinated, we could achieve herd immunity.

This is the idea that if a large enough percentage of the population or community is vaccinated, the individuals who are unable to receive vaccinations are also protected. This is because if you can’t catch the disease, you can’t pass it on, decreasing the risk of an outbreak.

Herd immunity in terms of COVID-9

Visualising herd immunity in mouse traps. Recommended.


Break down of herd immunity has caused deadly measles outbreaks in Samoa and USA.

Informative video on measles vaccine outbreak in Samoa, due to low vaccination rates.

Side effects of COVID-19 vaccines

Ministry of Health page on the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine called "Comirnaty." Read on to learn about its efficacy, side effects, and potential for allergic reactions.

Assessment Criteria: Describe one social implication of vaccinating populations. These implications must be economic, cultural, ethical, or environmental. (Achieved)

Compare the significance of social implications of using vaccines to prevent COVID-19 in NZ (Excellence).

In this section, you could include the following:

  • Describe the cost of vaccines in NZ.

  • Describe who can access the vaccine, and when? Is the vaccine rollout strategy equitable?

  • Should vaccination be made mandatory by law? Should some sectors only employ people who have been vaccinated?

  • Describe any cultural/religious implications of vaccination.

Section 3: Other People's Opinion and Viewpoints

Assessment Criteria: Describe one opinion FOR and one opinion AGAINST vaccinating; from named individuals, groups, or organisations (Achieved).

Section 4: My Personal Opinion

Assessment Criteria: Describe your personal position/opinion regarding the use of vaccines in NZ (Achieved).

Give reasons and supporting evidence to explain your personal position. Valid resources and referencing are expected (Merit).

Section 5: Proposed Action

Assessment Criteria: Describe one proposed personal/societal action supporting or objecting to the use of vaccines (Achieved).

Give reasons and supporting evidence to explain your proposed action. Valid resources and referencing are expected (Merit).

Consider the likely effectiveness of the proposed action in preventing disease in NZ. (Excellence).

Anti-vaccination activists charged in Samoa.

Vaccination against measles made mandatory.

Excellence Option: Validity and Bias of Resources

Assessment Criteria: Consider the validity of your references, and discuss any biases encountered. (Excellence).

Ministry of Heath message to the public on how to consider the validity and bias of resources.