What are we afraid of?
“One more died”. Someone gave me this greeting. For almost a year, the tabulation of Covid cases have been a staple in the news and we watched its escalation with anticipation until we got fed up somewhere along the way. But that additional score point wasn’t for the Covid cases or deaths, but for the death due to allergic reaction to the vaccine. What? There seems to be some people who keep track and tabulate the number of fatalities due to inoculation. Okay, maybe we could dismiss this as isolated misconception of some common folk. But a government employee of a major government office caught me out of my wits when he made a bold and confident comment against taking the vaccine. He even added that no one would probably be willing to take it. I was thinking to myself, “Isn’t your office buying multiple doses of the vaccine?”, and “Aren’t you supposed to be advocating for people to get it?”. In a separate conversation with another government employee of a different agency, when the chat turned to their ranks getting the shots, she gave the reply, “then we’ll all die”. Is this serious? Is there really a significant sector of the population who is more scared of the vaccine than the virus?
Why? Why do we have this plague on top of a plague? I remember a time in late 2019 when the public clamored for a vaccine when the virus had not made its presence official in the country. Throughout the lockdown, along with counting the number of cases, we counted the days for discovery of some cure. Didn’t we wait for that shot with hope? So, what happened? What hijacked the hope? I suppose Dengvaxia is a major factor. During the heydays of the community quarantine, I would sometimes come across warnings against the coming of vaccine on the Internet, alleging that getting it would be getting the mark of the beast with a microchip installed inside one’s body. I initially thought that no one would take such things seriously. But now, who’s to say? Then, there’s the more valid incident of deaths of European elderlies after receiving the vaccine. According to official surveys, trust in the vaccine still outnumber those who don’t. But that doesn’t seem to reflect reality on the streets. How did we get to this pseudo-conspiracy theory?
Since a considerable number of people are expressing strong distrust towards receiving the vaccine, roughly the same people may opt not to get the shot if and when their sector, agency or company calls them for their turn to pull up the sleeve. Since I sense a greater fear of the vaccine than that of the virus, would people quarantine themselves to avoid the vaccine? Would the government give incentives to encourage people to get it? If a substantial number of people refuse not to get it, would there be a large number of doses in storage unused? Would this hypothetical case run the risk of the vaccine doses getting spoiled or damaged in some way? That could be a waste of public funds. If the anti-vaccine movement takes a foothold, then what change could we expect? Restrictions may remain the same way because presumably the number of cases may not decline, but rather continue to increase. Public utility vehicles may take passengers in the same way. (Although, it is more comfortable relative to the traditional jampacked jeepney on rush hours.)Would schools go back to face to face?
Regardless of opposing stands towards the vaccine, people would most probably agree on the aspiration for us all to go back to the “normal”, despite the promotion of the “new normal”. Come on, admit it, we all want to go back the way it used to be. We would want to take public transport more accessibly and easily. We want the kids to go to school in the traditional way. We want businesses to boom. We want gainful employment. We want to do away with tests and restrictions. Is there a way to strip off these masks in public? With respect to our fears, how do we accomplish those? Maybe we can advocate on the merits and safety of the vaccine. Maybe we can do away with the vaccine. Maybe we can prepare for possible side effects of the vaccine, as some experts are doing now. Maybe, we can wait for a 100% effective, totally side-effect free vaccine. Maybe we could choose the best vaccine. Maybe there’s another solution. So, where do we go now?
“But he must ask in faith without any doubting,