Vaccine war: Jamaica needs the media now more than everThursday, March 18, 2021
In the war to control the minds of men, no entity has been more powerful than the mass media. And, at no other time, arguably, has that been more evident than at this hour, when the world is under attack by a deadly mutating virus.
As if the novel coronavirus pandemic has not been bad enough, there are hordes of people — many who went to school and should now be depended on to deploy against the virus — doing their damnedest to discourage others from fighting back with the only weapon we have, the COVID-19 vaccine.
Because free speech is an essential part of our democracy, such people have the right — which we unequivocally support — to express their opinion against the vaccines, and certainly to decide against taking it.
Yet, for those who have been gifted with the ability to drill down into the issue and see the far-reaching consequences of allowing the virus free rein, there is an obligation to educate and push back against the blatant disinformation being peddled globally.
It would seem to well-thinking people that just the fact that the virus has taken out more than 2.6 million people and sickened over 121 million globally, would have been enough to convince even the most hard-line sceptic to support vaccination.
Social media is rife with the unbridled effort of the anti-vaxxers or vaccine sceptics who are preying on the unsuspecting or ignorant among the population. If it were not so dangerous we could ignore it.
In this regard, we suggest that the traditional news media not allow itself to be commandeered by these anti-vaxxers. For the sake of Jamaica's recovery, the media must remain an oasis in a desert of misinformation.
Journalists should not be satisfied with asking officials to respond to rumours and then run with a story idea planted by those who are against vaccines. The rumours should be thoroughly checked out before making it in to print or on air.
We commend all those who, while not ignoring the againsters, have been making their voices heard for the vaccine, and in favour of Jamaica's welfare, after 494 deaths and 31,907 cases of the novel coronavirus at Jamaica Observer press time.
It was especially encouraging to hear from Sister Maxine Stowe, the erstwhile manager of Bunny Wailer and official of the Rastafari Millennium Council, who charged that those who are criticising the vaccine, while ignoring the facts regarding Rastafari elders and community members with co-morbidities, were doing a disservice.
Ms Stowe was quoted by The Star newspaper yesterday as urging Rastafarian entertainers to think carefully about the needs of the elders in the community and their own career before making rash statements about the COVID-19 vaccine.
“The over 80 per cent death rate on the elderly is of high concern, as the massive suppression against the community over the years has left our elders even more vulnerable. We do not know how many are included in the growing list of statistics, so we are asking for restraint and deeper analysis,” she said on behalf of the council.
If we can tweak Charles E Weller's 1918 quote: Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of our country.
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