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Jane’s V the sign of a little victory for science

Mark Knight, February 25, 2021 6:15PM Kids News

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Reading level: red

The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination program in Australia was big news, and when the first person to be vaccinated was scheduled all the TV cameras, journalists, photographers and politicians were there. Including Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

The first group of Australians to be given the Pfizer vaccine were older citizens living in aged care as they were the most vulnerable to the virus. Jane Malysiak, an 84-year-old survivor of World War II, who grew up in Poland and came to Australia when she was 13, was the first person to receive the jab. Sitting next to the Prime Minister in a medical centre in Sydney and going live on television all around Australia, she was administered* the dose without any problems.

Like a lot of Australians I was watching the historic moment on Sunday morning TV knowing that I would be drawing a cartoon about it in the next day’s paper.

Of course some of the best scripted events don’t always go to plan, so when the PM held up the V for vaccine two-fingered salute for the cameras, he motioned for Jane to do it as well. A perfect picture opportunity in the making with the Prime Minister and the first Australian to be vaccinated both giving the V for Vaccine (or Victory, back in Winston Churchill’s day) salute. Unfortunately Ms Malysiak turned her hand around and gave the assembled media an unintended rude gesture!

First there was shock, then roars of laughter as the PM, choking back tears, took the lady’s hand and clasped it in his. But the moment was captured on film and would become a hilarious snippet in our fightback against the coronavirus.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison Receives Pfizer Covid-19 Vaccination media_cameraPrime Minister Scott Morrison give the V for victory sign with Jane Malysiak, 84, who was the first recipient of the COVID-19 vaccination at Castle Hill Medical Centre on February 21, 2021 in Sydney, NSW. Picture: Getty Images

Now I had this funny moment to work with for my cartoon, but I had to work out how to use it.

One thing I had noticed during the current debate on the coronavirus was the rise of people sceptical of the vaccine, which is fair enough. People were worried about the speed in which the world’s scientists had developed the vaccine and how that may lead to issues with its safety down the track.

An education campaign would be needed to explain to the public what was happening. A lot of Australian experts had tried to allay* fears about it, for example Aussie Nobel prize winner and immunologist Peter Doherty had been explaining how the vaccine works and why it is needed, and how the risks or side effects were very, very low. He wrote an informative column in the Herald Sun about how it all works, like an “Immunology for Dummies” guide!

But there was a lot of fear mongering* and false information being spread on social media. People who had a “Facebook Batchelor of Science and Virology” were spreading disinformation and creating fear among the community. For some reason they saw scientists as the enemy, and that the vaccine and even the virus were a hoax! To me it sounded a bit like the climate-change-deniers’ arguments.

When I saw the footage of the vaccination of Ms Malysiak, I thought I could use her mistaken hand gesture as a cheeky rebuke* to those spreading fear and misinformation. I would take the actual moment and redraw it. The scene would be familiar to readers because they had seen it probably many times in their news feeds, but I would give it a humorous twist to convey a message.

Mark Knight's V is for vaccine cartoon. media_cameraMark Knight’s V is for vaccine cartoon.

So I drew the scene of the Prime Minister ScoMo, all smiles and giving the two-fingered salute and saying “V is for Vaccine!”. Next to him, having just received the vaccine is our senior citizen giving the other two-fingered salute to the cameras, but in my cartoon she is saying “and this is for the anti-vaxxers!”

Which is quite a statement in support of the COVID vaccine!


  • administered: given, as in a medicine or a vaccine
  • allay: put to rest, as in fears
  • fear mongering: spreading fear
  • rebuke: sharp criticism


Big thrill when coronavirus vaccine arrives

How does the coronavirus vaccine work?

Not even Ash can drag ScoMo out of strife


  1. Who is Australia’s Prime Minister?
  2. What was he giving a V sign?
  3. What did Ms Malysiak do differently?
  4. What does Mark Knight imagine her sign could mean?
  5. Who is Peter Doherty?


1. Caption it!
Cartoonist Mark Knight has not used a caption on this cartoon, letting the imagery speak for itself.

Read Mark’s explanation of what the cartoon means again and write two, three or four short sentences, just to make sure you understand what the cartoon is saying.

Using your sentences to help you, write a caption for the cartoon or some thought bubbles or quotes from the person or animal in the cartoon that will make Mark’s meaning clearer for children or people who haven’t been reading the news this week.

Time: allow at least 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum links: English, Humanities, Visual Arts, Critical and Creative Thinking

2. Extension
Look through the most recent stories on Kids News and choose one to draw a cartoon about.

Use Mark’s three-step process to get started:

What is my subject?

What do I want to say about this issue?

How do I say it? Do I use visual metaphors (an image that the viewer is meant to understand as a symbol for something else), multiple panels or symbolism (when one idea, feeling or emotion is represented by something else such as a: picture, character, colour or object)?

Time: allow at least 40 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum links: English, Humanities, Visual Arts, Critical and Creative Thinking

Describe It
Look at the cartoon and make a list of 5 nouns that you see. Then describe those 5 nouns with 5 adjectives.

Be specific and add where those nouns using prepositions and another noun.

Now choose your favourite bundle and put all the words together to make one descriptive sentence.

HAVE YOUR SAY: How would you feel about being the first person in Australia to get the COVID-19 vaccine?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.

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