What is the first vaccination experience that you remember? Mine was not very pleasant.
I entered the doctor’s office after waiting for what felt like a very long time. I wasn’t quite aware of what was going on as I was young, in spite of my parents having described it for me. When the doctor inserted the needle into my arm, I did not like the feeling.
My arm was sore for days after. The experience was odd for me, but I never questioned it. And despite my youth, this makes me question why it is so common for vaccines to receive major backlash and questioning.
According to Our World in Data there is a clear rise in the number of people receiving the coronavirus vaccine. Due to this, there is growing hope that the pandemic cases will begin to decline. The coronavirus vaccines are similar to the majority of other vaccines. The body is given a small dose of the virus, which provides you with certain lymphocytes that support the body in remembering how to fight this illness. This process also creates herd immunity for the entire population, including age groups such as newborns who cannot be vaccinated as they tend to have a compromised immune system.
However, with the growing publicity of the COVID-19 vaccines, there is also a rise in the amount of people that are refusing the vaccine.
According to a February survey published on an article in The Guardian, 40% of France, 25% of the United States, and 23% of Germany, have stated that they will definitely or probably not get vaccinated. With only 50% of the United States agreeing to receive doses. Half of the group that said that they did not want the vaccine also said they were concerned for the safety of it. This not only damages people refusing the vaccine, but it damages others too, as well as the economy.
When speaking about a group of military staff refusing the vaccine, Dr Anthony Fauci, a top infectious disease official in the US stated “You’ve got to think of your own health, which is really very important, but you got to think about your societal obligation,”.
The economy will continue to see decline as the virus spreads, therefore it is vital that as many people get vaccinated as quickly as possible.
However, the anti-vax movement is prohibiting this from happening efficiently. Where is this movement derived from? Is it a fairly new idea? It seems not. The first vaccine was discovered by English physician, Edward Jenner in 1796. He took fluid from a cow pox blister and rubbed it on to an 8 year old boy’s arm and a spot arose. He then inoculated him again later and no blister could be found. Jenner’s vaccine worked against smallpox.
The anti-vax movement can be traced back to the 18th century, and it is believed that it stemmed from a lack of knowledge concerning the process of vaccination, which seems to be the case again today.
Soon after the Great British Vaccination Act in 1853, an anti-vax league was formed. These people claimed that the vaccines did not work, that they would make you unwell and contained toxic chemicals, and that mandatory vaccines were unethical and oppressive. In spite of them putting themselves in danger, they attempted to spread their own literature to alert people of the peril of vaccines.
This is very similar to the movement that is taking place today, which shows how little we have progressed in some areas.
The impact of the coronavirus is clear when analyzing the current state of the economy. And people declining the vaccine and protesting to object to it are merely delaying the time it takes for us to return to our ‘normal’ lives. Protests are a massive problem as they are spreading misinformation. These protests are becoming significantly more prominent around the globe. For example in Australia. Prior to vaccine rollout, there were large groups challenging this in Melbourne, Brisbane, and Sydney.
The change in the economy has been incredible, as we can see by the unemployment rates, the GDP growth, the drop in shoppers, and many more statistics. This affects countless people around the world in numerous ways, putting them in a very difficult situation in terms of money, housing, food, etc.
How can we fix vaccination problems that we have been facing for two centuries?
This survey underlines the challenges governments are facing due to COVID.
The main reason people refuse the vaccine? Lack of knowledge.
The majority of the European people refusing the vaccine wrote that they were not educated on the topic and also thought that their country’s government did not do an adequate job at informing them about how the vaccine worked and what it contained. This leads to a fear of the sufficiency of the coronavirus vaccine, and also leads to people creating theories about what the government may be scheming.
After speaking to Kolina Koltai who has been studying online disinformation for over 5 years, Economics Author, Derek Thompson suggests that “Better national messaging on how vaccines could change our lives might encourage young people to get the shot”.
The only, very obvious proposal that I can think of is to encourage people to take vaccines for their own, and other people’s safety, but do not mandate them as this only makes people want to rebel. They do not want to be controlled.
At the same time, governments should be educating their communities on vaccines and illnesses, and inform them of the risks and consequences that come with not accepting vaccine doses, as well as opening their eyes to the numerous benefits of virus prevention.
When I received my first vaccination that I can recall, it was a very foreign concept, but as a child you trust your parents in spite of you not understanding the situation. The people rebelling against the vaccine are adults, therefore it is expected that they question this.
If they trusted the government, and understood the way vaccines work as well as their several benefits, people will be far more likely to adhere to the governments suggestion to take the vaccine.