The vaccine fear — real or imagined?


The vaccine fear — real or imagined?

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

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The novel coronavirus pandemic has brought with it the need for another vaccine to combat its spread and halt the deaths which result from becoming infected. This has drawn varied responses to being vaccinated by many individuals, with some have even voicing a preference to death rather than taking the shot. “Something has to kill me,” they say. However, the truth of the matter is that vaccines have always been here and won't be going away any time soon.

How soon we get back to 'normal' depends on whether or not enough of us will take the vaccine and gently encourage or help our neighbours to overcome their fear and take the shot. The fear-mongering over the COVID-19 vaccine by some is based on the issue of the short time it took to being developed. According to research, developing a new vaccine from scratch takes considerable time and traditionally has taken 5-10 years. The process includes extensive research, clinical trials for safety and effectiveness (several stages), approval and licensure, monitoring and adverse events reporting.

Despite all of this, for others it's the composition or ingredients of the vaccine that is the deterrent. Vaccines include ingredients to help one's immune system respond and build immunity to a specific disease — antigens or adjuvants. This may contain small amounts of weak or dead germs and, thanks to the Internet, this information is available to all. But this new-found knowledge now feeds the fear.

Still, others are just blatantly refusing to take the vaccine because of whispers of some kind of conspiracy theory.

For most of us, this is our first experience of a pandemic. The last one was the 1918 influenza pandemic. It was estimated that about 500 million people, or one-third of the world's population, became infected with this virus and approximately 50 million died ( www.History of There was no known vaccine then, and maybe if there was, certainly, some lives could have been saved. Given the opportunity then, I am positive that the population of that time would have been grateful for a vaccine. However, time and technology are now far advanced, and I believe, fortunate for us, a vaccine has been produced for the novel coronavirus. We have what they wished for, a chance to fight and stay alive.

Vaccination is one of the world's most successful health interventions, saving as many as three million lives every year, according to Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). Our children have to be fully immunised before being accepted into the education system from as early basic school. Proof of vaccination has to be presented for bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG), measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, measles, poliomyelitis, and tuberculosis. Then there is the vaccine for hepatitis B for adults required by some employers. Immunisation has become a way of life; it prevents debilitating illnesses, disabilities, and death from vaccine-preventable diseases. We have duly complied with this request, without hesitation, but we now believe the COVID-19 vaccine has been designed to render us disabled or kill us.

One argument, advanced in the book COVID-19 Conspiracy Theories, is that “conspiracy theories are often shared among people who lack — or feel that they lack — social power”. If spreading rumours is easy, combatting them is even harder. The conspiracy theories regarding this vaccine run the gamut:

• it will alter your DNA;

• it will give you the disease itself;

• it contains a microchip, placed there by Bill Gates;

• it's linked to cell towers via 5G technology to allow for population surveillance;

• it has links to the 'mark of the beast', 666; or

• it will eliminate the black race.

Then there are those who refer to the pandemic as a 'plandemic', because they believe COVID-19 is a hoax planned by the Government. These narratives are intruding on reasonable and sound thinking.

One would think that with the abundance of information available conspiracy theories would be minimal, but, au contraire! It's quite the opposite. The extremists have even resolved that they would resist any attempt by the Government to make taking the vaccine mandatory. True, the problem with mandatory vaccination is that it impinges on people's rights, a fundamental aspect of liberal democracy.

The introduction of immunisation has drastically improved life expectancy of Jamaicans. We have been helped and healed more than harmed by accepting vaccines. Additionally, we have filled every prescription for drugs written by a physician, popped every pill prescribed often without ever stopping to research their side effects. To date, the novel coronavirus has infected almost 20,000 Jamaicans with near 400 deaths. We have been under lockdowns, curtailed by curfews, muffled by masks, and spritzed with sanitiser at every turn. Life as we knew it has changed. There is no guarantee that things will return to what they were pre-COVID-19. With that said, why risk more lives by refusing to take the vaccine?

In this day and age, no one walks into a dark room and refuses to turn on the light, why would you? You wouldn't stand by the light switch and think whether or not you should do some research about electricity before flipping the switch? So, go ahead and take the vaccine, your life or that of your loved ones may depend on it!

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