Record-breaking COVID-19 cases. Never-ending MCOs. Vaccine scary reactions. Should we leave behind our fears in hope of achieving herd immunity?
I feel that we’d all agree by now, we’re all wishing for the WFHs and MCOs days to be over. I don’t remember what my colleagues look like anymore and as for the MCO… well, MCO seems like a Netflix series — just when you think it’s over, they release another season.
So, when the Malaysian government announced the National Immunisation Programme (NIP) in February, to say that I was excited would be an understatement. When the COVID-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) announced the first round of registration to opt-in for the AstraZeneca vaccine, they should have just said, “Let the vaccine war begin.” It was a life-battle met with system glitches and sighs of frustration when being put on a waiting list — for me at least.
The second round of opt-in, which was also conducted on a first-click, first-served basis, broke its previous record of 3 hours 20 minutes in a mere hour. This drastic difference may be due to the increasing, all-time-high cases or the sentiment behind the heart-wrenching condition of quarantine treatment centres. Thankfully, we no longer need to battle for any more vaccine slots (yay!) and, fingers-crossed, our NIP runs smoothly and efficiently.
However, since way before the vaccine rollouts, many people have expressed concerns about their safety and effectiveness. If you have vaccine hesitancy — here are 3 reasons why you should get vaccinated.
1. It protects you and your loved ones
Getting vaccinated protects you, your family, and the society. This is especially important to those who fall under the high risk group.
But Nelissa... "Receiving the vaccine does not immunise you from getting COVID-19 right now. So, why bother?"
It’s highly encouraged because we’re trying to achieve herd immunity. Higher vaccination rates lessen outbreaks; and protecting yourself is the first step in reducing the likelihood of disease transmission.
2. Side effects are normal
Headaches. Fever. Chills.
Truth be told, when my friends told me about their post-injection symptoms, I was scared. However, the pandemic mortality risk is much scarier. Most of these reported side effects are actually normal post-injection symptoms that signal your body is building protection. These side effects may affect your daily activities, but they should go away in a few days.
3. Clinical trials validated it’s effective and safe
Okay, so how’d we get a COVID-19 vaccine so fast, but none for HIV and cancer which has been around for years?
Let’s take a step back. Comparing COVID-19 to HIV or cancer, is like comparing apples to oranges. As explained here, finding HIV vaccine’s challenging because it mutates rapidly and has unique ways of evading the immune system. Cancer is caused by many various reasons and the fight against COVID-19 is easier as this is a disease caused by infection with one virus.
There was no ‘shortcut’ in getting the vaccine. The whole world’s working towards the same goal— there’s no shortage of funding, trial participants or research, and monitoring is still ongoing to date. Vaccine development undergo rigorous testings, analysis, and reviews as they are developed. With the COVID-19 hotspot areas and record-breaking number of cases, the chances of contracting COVID-19 is very high. With the efficacy rates between 50.4%-95% for any vaccine, I’d prefer some degree of protection and trust the safety level expected from a vaccine rather than take my chances with the fast-mutating COVID-19.
As lots of people are excited about getting jabbed, there are some who are vaccine-hesitant or strongly against rolling up their sleeves whether it’s from all the rumoured side-effects and speculations on what’s in the vaccine. When Malaysia got its first batch of vaccines, there was skepticism over the needles used for the Malaysian Prime Minister’s televised vaccine shot (which was immediately addressed by medical professionals).
Next, a video went viral on Twitter of medical personnel underdosing vaccines. This gained high traction and the establishment of the SOP where medical personnel are now obliged to show the syringes to the recipients pre-injection. Here’s their side of the story:
1. Concerns over safety and effectiveness
There has been news circulating about the AstraZeneca vaccine after cases where recipients reported blood clots shortly after getting their shots. Authorities from different countries are investigating local cases although the ‘cause-and-effect’ linking these two are not confirmed. In addressing the safety concerns, the Malaysian government has dropped AZ vaccine from its inoculation scheme, but has made the AZ vaccine optional. Health Minister Adham Baba reassured that the vaccine is safe and it will be administered to those aged 60 years and older.
2. False information and rumours
There are a number of conspiracy theories and misinformation about the disease and the vaccine. Vaccines supposedly cause infertility, DNA alteration, and (my personal favourite) tracking people using microchips. Luckily, there’s various backed research and explanations of why none of these are possible. So before you get jabbed, whether your vaccine’s AstraZeneca, Pfizer, or the less famed of the 5 siblings, it’s important to know your facts.
If you’re trying to understand the anti-vaxxers’ perspective, remember to forget judgment and practise compassion. Most people are trying to make their best decisions to protect themselves and their families.
So, should you get vaccinated? Maybe.
Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organisation (WHO) advised that people who fall under these categories should not take the vaccine. Moral of the story: Do your best to stay alive.
Remember, even though you’re vaccinated, you can’t simply go out to flaunt that post-quarantine glow-up just yet. Regardless of your stance on vaccination, it’s crucial to comply with the SOP, practise social distancing measures, and double mask when going out. Protecting ourselves first is our only chance to be a COVID-free nation. Conduct your own thorough and unbiased research. Lastly, false rumours are as deadly as the virus so make sure to fact-check our infodemic first. Before sharing, ask yourself: Is it fact or fiction?
Meanwhile, I’m off to #CucukMYAZ,
Puteri Nelissa Milani completed her Bachelor of Business (Honours) Finance and Economics at Taylor's University in August 2020. She is also a journalist for the independent student-run organisation Financial Literacy for Youths: Malaysia (FLY: Malaysia).
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