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Vaccines and Mapping the Paradox

Twelve months ago, I knew nothing about vaccines, coronavirus, or isolation. A year on, I have learnt a lot about vaccines. I realise that there is a whole world out there that I still know nothing about other than the veneer I have read, but I am deeply grateful for the level of expertise and commitment from the professionals in the field. This time last year, I was off to Africa on my tod to walk up Kilimanjaro. Part because it was one mountain I missed out on when climbing lots in my twenties and raised money for Cancer Research and Watford Peace Hospice that cared for my dad in his exit. I enjoyed the self-isolation as it was a choice and allowed me to reflect. A year on, like everyone, we have had to dig deep, only to realise that loneliness is what so many live with every day. Whilst we see an end and escape, their groundhog day started before lockdown and will continue for many others.

Unpacking and explaining the Peak Paradox model is here, you will need this backgrounder to understand the model so that this article will make sense; it is a 5-minute read. A new way of seeing the same thing will mean we can act differently; this is the peak paradox model’s core tenet.

This Peak Paradox map is a reflection of the paradox of vaccines.

Peak Individual Purpose - this is where you have a choice to exercise both your right to free speech and your personal agency. You can choose to have a vaccine or not, and you can choose to believe in their power or not. You can pick your evidence and side and be vocal about it. Whilst #covid19 vaccines are free, there is a broader paradox, as the price increases for paid for vaccines, fewer can exercise their full agency.

Peak Work Purpose - The most extreme purpose on this axis is a fully commercial reason, which drives an entire industry. These individuals have a peak work purpose to lead new groundbreaking work, create a legacy, to receive recognition and awards. We need to recognise a mix of Peak Individual, Peak Work, and Peak Social in the mix that drives these incredible people. A green bubble out another driver that has a commercial benefit of creating IP, invention and innovation, and solves large scale problems.

The Paradox for Vaccines is lived out every day in those who are in the industry.

Peak Social Purpose - As we move down from Peak Individual Purpose towards everyone, we can reflect on the media reporting the importance of keeping yourself safe, your family, country, and everyone. Until the world is vaccinated, no one is safe. But specific stories will resonate with personal beliefs and individual biases - mixed with confused media messaging, we end up with a messy compromise of behaviour. The clarity of saving everyone is lost in the noise of encouraging everyone to stay safe, and we lose the linkage between our behaviour and the outcomes.

A Peak Human Purpose is to survive; a free vaccine means more of us able to survive.


Plotting vaccines for me helped me understand the paradox’s I see in the media and messaging, the specific nature of language, and our behaviours. However, it also exposed the reality of this for those in the industries that create, test, manufacture and distribute vaccines that there is a daily struggle that many of us will leave behind.

As we have the chance to move on, post lockdowns and restrictions, I am aware of those who will be left with the same loneliness, risks and dilemmas that we have been exposed to and that we should remain mindful of.

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