Minister Nickolas Steele and other health officials seem to be baffled as to why more people are not coming forward to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine which seems to be holding Grenada back from reaching its target. Examining the situation on all fronts it seems that not only misinformation is the cause of the problem but religion too.
This newspaper has heard reference made of a pastor who told his congregation that the vaccine is the mark of the beast and they should not take it. Well in a country where freedom of conscience in the constitution is explained as being free to worship and all kinds of religions are welcome, shouldn’t the authorities be prepared to give them their freedom? We have seen in our recent history what intolerance of differences in opinions has caused.
As the word is out that taking the vaccine may soon be made mandatory, people have been voicing their concerns whether their human rights will be violated. The situation should not be taken lightly as someone who identified himself as a bus driver declared on local radio that if the Government should make taking the vaccine mandatory “blood will run in this country.” While the host and other guests disagreed with him, it goes to show how some people feel about being forced into taking the vaccine.
One may ask what’s the cause of the big scare? But the very health officials have helped to cause the confusion about the vaccine, maybe unknowingly by not sticking to their script. This week we look at some of the confusion. The drug was launched as one that will help strengthen the immune system in the event that a person gets infected. But it was made clear that one should still wear masks and practice the protocols even while being vaccinated because people can still get the disease and even pass it on after receiving the vaccination. Health officials have said in the past that the vaccine will reduce the effects of the infection should the virus enter one’s body. This week new information came out when it was revealed in popular radio programmes that the vaccine makes a person immune to the disease. What should we believe here?
Minister Steele was adamant that there are no deaths associated with the vaccine in any part of the world. As a politician, it would have served the Health Minister a whole lot of good if, upon hearing about the young man’s death after receiving the vaccine, he was less arrogant and had showed some sympathy to the family and promised to investigate the situation since it is constantly being said that the effects of AstraZenica is still being studied. However, the Minister is only human and so expressing frustration is quite normal. He is probably coming to terms with the fact that the new-normal brought on by COVID-19 is no cup of tea.
At the onset of the disease there was no trained communicator in the mix to design the promos and messages in a ‘people friendly’ manner since all man Jack felt that he knew how to do that. The question then is how come in general elections campaign people even from outside of Grenada are hired to take control of the public information? By now the health officials should realise that they are not constant in the messages they are giving out and this is provoking mistrust by the common man who are relying on them for information. Then again it was revealed only this week by a host of a political radio programme that Grenada has a big illiteracy problem, so with that in mind, shouldn’t efforts be made to simplify the information which is being disseminated.
In a subtle way frontline workers are even threatened by losing their jobs. The question was brought forward by the Health Minister that front line workers who refuse to take the vaccine, can put other people’s lives in danger. Yet it is noticeable that even junior doctors have refused to take AstraZenica which is said to be associated with blood clots.
The vaccine is now said to be available to all and sundry in every health centre and in community centres. So why then are people not rushing to get vaccinated?
Let’s go back to the drawing board with this one Mr Steele.