To jab or not to jab?

A major benefit of punishing those who spread anti-vaccine messages is that it would curtail the spread of anti-vax conspiracies which are harmful to public health.

– Lim Wei Jiet, Hakam secretary-general

Of anti-vaxxers and vaccines choices

Even during the height of the pandemic here, strangely the subject of being vaccinated is still an issue.

Globally as of 13 June 2021, there have been 175,306,598 confirmed cases of Covid-19, and 3,792,777 reported deaths.

The latest statistics for Sarawak show that as of June 13, there have been a cumulative total of 55,443 persons who have been infected with the Covid-19 virus and 351 deaths. Most of these deaths have occurred during this latest wave of infections.

Despite these increasingly alarming figures, there are still hard-core sceptics around who do not want to be vaccinated. These are people from across all segments of society.

Generally, from my perspective, I have no issue with those who object to being vaccinated.

Before this pandemic, I am sure most of you would agree that many of us would not have batted an eye about being immunised. All of us have received vaccines of one sort or another.

However, just before delving further, exactly what is a vaccine?

The Centre for Disease Control in the USA defines it as “a product that stimulates a person’s immune system to produce immunity to a specific disease, protecting the person from that disease. Vaccines are usually administered through needle injections, but can also be administered by mouth or sprayed into the nose”.

Most of us have always received it as a matter of course since birth.

Also based on recent events, only a few years back, Sarawak faced some outbreaks of rabies amongst dogs. There have been some deaths due to dog bites. To date, there have been 57,861 dog bite cases.

As a precaution, many people have been given doses of rabies vaccine to protect themselves after being bitten. There was no discussion or outcry about the rabies vaccine.

In relation to the Covid-19 vaccine, perhaps due to its rapid development, there has been much more discussion and speculation about the pros and the cons of the vaccine.

I personally hold the view that we need to be vaccinated to be part of the team that forms the head immunity to protect each other and halt the spread of the Covid-19 infection.

As I just mentioned before, if an individual holds the belief, for whatever reason, that he or she does not want to be vaccinated, that is fine.

The issue I have is that when people go out of their way to alarm and instigate others not to receive the vaccine. I find this unacceptable, as I am sure, do many.

Much of the information used to discourage others is fake news. Like the virus itself, this fake news then spreads like the pandemic rapidly, causing doubt and fear among those who would otherwise have accepted the vaccine.

I do agree that there should be stiff penalties against anti-vaxxers who disseminate fake news to discourage the public from being vaccinated.

This is a war we are fighting to save our loved ones, ourselves and our communities.

The Sarawak government is doing its best to get vaccines and set up vaccination programmes for all the communities.

This month has seen an increase in vaccine supplies and the collaboration between all public sector healthcare agencies and other entities will see a rapid increase in the vaccination rate.

Unfortunately, people are still hesitating to be vaccinated due to the unfounded fears caused by the anti-vaxxers.

Now, compounding the issue of the vaccination programme is the fact that people are being influenced about the type of vaccine.

Despite having appointments for their vaccinations people are rejecting them due to what for the moment I would term as ‘vaccine apartheid’ perceptions. It seems, unfortunately, to be linked to racial type preferences, but I might be wrong and if so, I stand corrected.

This is really a nonsensical mindset that is also compounded by international politics and the ‘my vaccine is better than your vaccine’ battle.

All vaccines provide us with some form of protection and this is what we should accept.

The Sarawak government has gone to great lengths to contain the virus.

No matter which side of the political divide one comes from or even the politically disinterested bystanders would have to admit that the Sarawak government has pulled out all the stops and gone the extra miles to do their best to safeguard Sarawakians.

There is no place that is safe from the Covid-19 virus.

Just get out there and get vaccinated to safeguard Sarawak and its people.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the New Sarawak Tribune.