Mostly poor, uneducated being hurt by the anti-vaxxersThursday, April 15, 2021
It is not difficult to see that the estimated 100,000 Jamaicans who have taken the COVID-19 vaccine so far are largely the more educated and better-off among us, which means there is still a lot of work to be done.
In that respect, we hope that Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton's pledge to step up his pushback against the cruel and uncaring anti-vaccination movement is serious, and that he will get the support of all well-thinking Jamaicans, including the media.
It was painful to hear the minister say that the campaign by anti-vaxxers is impacting our seniors even in nursing homes, as relatives prevent the very people who need the vaccination most from getting inoculated against the novel coronavirus.
“Yes, there are people who discourage other people from taking the vaccine, whether in the health centre context, at home, or in the community, and some of those people are family members. We will continue to push back against this, and we have to do a lot more to push back,” Dr Tufton told journalists last weekend.
We see signs that confirm the minister's assertion that those who have set themselves against the vaccination have “become well-resourced”. While they enjoy the right to express their view, some have resorted to subterfuge and that should not be tolerated.
For example, two of several videos issued recently by these shadowy persons purport to be coming from well-known personalities Dr Alfred Dawes and Senator Damion Crawford giving stern warnings against taking the vaccine.
Both men have had to take to the airwaves to deny the claims made in their names. In the case of Dr Dawes, he went further to say he had been vaccinated and wished others would do so for their own good.
One can argue that Jamaicans have shown great enthusiasm for the vaccine by rushing the vaccination centres during the Ministry of Health's islandwide inoculation blitz which, despite some unforced errors, was highly successful.
The people who turned out and stood in long lines for hours were larglely more well read, most drive cars including expensive ones, were well-spoken, calmer, more patient, experienced and likely wiser for that experience. Despite severe provocation at times, they did not climb on each other's back or break down any fence to get into the centres.
That means when the country receives the next batches of vaccine, every effort must be made to counter the message of the vaccine sceptics which seem tailored to appeal to the masses whom they claim to love.
We must seek to patiently win over Jamaicans who are at a disadvantage, pressing home the reality that millions have died and millions more will die without the vaccine.
The World Health Organization (WHO) cannot say it often enough that two million people are saved annually by vaccines, and that vaccine hesitancy is one of the top 10 health threats to the world.
Dr Tufton speaks for sensible Jamaicans in stating: “So those who advocate that kind of nonsense should be soundly rejected, and I am prepared to reject them in the morning, at noon, in the evening, and at night.”
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