We enthusiastically endorse the COVID-19 vaccineMonday, March 22, 2021
A year ago, the desire for a vaccine to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus was fervent.
Indeed, the prevailing view was that mass inoculation was the world's greatest hope for a return to normality as economies and, most importantly, human existence had started to buckle under the weight of COVID-19.
Thanks to heavy and targeted funding, scientists have been able to develop vaccines that have been given emergency use approval by the World Health Organization (WHO) as well as the health regulators in a number of countries.
Naturally, there were people who expressed doubt about the efficacy of these vaccines, given the time span in which they were developed. However, anyone with an iota of knowledge about scientific research understands that what is now available is the result of centuries of incremental work that have turned vaccination from a crude and often risky practice to a highly refined science.
There's no denying the fact that human beings have benefited from vaccines for more than two centuries. The WHO tells us that the range of vaccines now available to mankind prevent more than 20 life-threatening diseases, among them diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, influenza, polio, and measles, saving the lives of up to three million people every year.
Vaccines, as we have all come to know, train and prepare the body's immune system to recognise and fight off the viruses and bacteria they target. After vaccination, if the body is later exposed to those disease-causing viruses, the body is immediately ready to destroy them, preventing illness.
The people who are bent on sowing doubt about the efficacy of vaccines are quick to point to side effects. What they conveniently ignore is the fact that every medicine, including some of your everyday painkillers and antibiotics, have side effects, some of which can be very damaging.
Indeed, anyone who has ever undergone surgery would have been advised by doctors about the possible complications of anaesthesia.
So the anti-vaccine declarations making the rounds on social media and on the Internet are simply scare tactics designed to sway public opinion from the reality that vaccination is an effective way to prevent disease and save lives.
As we have reported in this newspaper before, immunisation has been a key component of primary health care for decades. There's hardly a Jamaican parent who hasn't had their child or children inoculated against a number of diseases to which babies are susceptible.
Unfortunately, the current Information Age, despite all its benefits, gives extensive reach to those who one doctor so correctly labelled “WhatsApp university-certified specialists” to feed the many fickle-minded among us.
This is a challenge that will be with us for a long time. We all will be required, especially us in media, to counter their mischief with credible information.
On that basis we give our full-throated endorsement to the COVID-19 vaccine, recognising that it is the only viable solution on the immediate horizon to end the pandemic and return life to normal.
At the same time, we urge Jamaicans to continue observing the safety protocols of wearing a mask, washing and sanitising our hands and immediate surroundings, and maintaining physical distance.
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