I called my doctor the other day for a prescription refill, and he asked me if I already received my vaccination for COVID-19. I said I hadn’t, and with a faint voice I bravely muttered that I wasn’t in a hurry to get it. To my surprise, I didn’t get the scolding I was anticipating, and wasn’t cancelled on the spot by my family physician. Our conversation turned into a lively discussion of my health and my attempt to watch my COVID weight, as well as hiking spots I plan to trek in the next few weeks. All’s well when you don’t get voted out for not getting the vaccine.
Of course, people do ask why I am treading waters with the vaccination.Yes, I do agree that COVID-19 is indeed a real virus and I understand it poses a significant, and sometimes fatal, risk to certain groups, specifically the elderly and those with multiple pre-existing conditions; and no, I am not a conspiracy theorist. I am also not an anti-vaxxer, growing up in the Philippines with the trademark bakuna on my right arm for all the diseases that plague our beloved homeland, and getting my flu vaccine every year. I cannot be blamed for being doubtful about the vaccines pharmaceuticals came up with miraculously within a year, and just after a tumultuous US election and a messy Donald Trump exit. I cannot be blamed for being too cautious about how our world operates, and how suspicious I am now, more than ever, by how society and politics has developed into a modern day Tower of Babel situation (thanks for the analogy, my dear husband!) where everyone is suspect, and no one can be trusted because we speak different languages – linguistically and culturally. This mistrust is not a product of my imagination but of careful observation and study of how, in only a matter of years, what I know as life and the straightforwardness of it, has become so subjective and responsive to a post-truth culture, which answers to a chosen few’s whims and manipulations, not to timeless truths and to sound science and logic.
While millions of people worldwide are hoping to receive a vaccination against the coronavirus in the near future, some vaccines have been found safe and approved by health authorities in many countries. At the same time, many people are ambivalent because, while they want to protect themselves against infection, they also fear possible side effects from vaccination. They have doubts as to whether the vaccines are actually safe, given the rapid pace of development, and whether possible side effects have been adequately studied. A recent survey has shown how almost half of Canadians are sitting it out and waiting until all these side effects are eliminated, and the vaccines declared 100% effective. The side effects of drugs cannot be determined until after years of trials and administration. This is the reason why we do have vaccinations that have been tried and tested, and administered to babies and to adults simply because, beyond reasonable doubt, they work and have withstood side-effects and all.
But vaccines are vaccines – they are not cures. A friend of my daughter said that he is not going to get COVID because his parents already received the vaccine, and I wondered how many people think this way, and how much we have placed our trust on vaccines to magically take the virus away. While vaccine effectiveness can vary, recent studies show that flu vaccination reduces the risk of flu illness by between 40% and 60% among the overall population during seasons when most circulating flu viruses are well-matched to the flu vaccine (CDC, 2021), but it will not eradicate it. We need to ask questions; we need to be more informed; we need to do our homework. Federal health officials say the blood clots reported in six people who received Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine are similar to blood clots detected in a very small number of people in Europe who were immunized with AstraZeneca’s shot. Whether it is a small number of people, it is still a number of dead people.
Bill Gates, BC Premiere John Horgan – they haven’t gotten their shots yet. The Philippine General Hospital Physicians’ Association said in a statement that the vaccination plan should have been handled with more prudence and transparency, and have not received the great gift of the Chinese government called Sinovac. The immunity of those whose bodies are no match to COVID-19 haven’t been counted or considered yet.
So, I’m not in a hurry either.