Persuasion, not coercion, solution to Covid jab apathy

Monday, January 10th, 2022 03:00 | By
A nurse displays a Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Photo/PD/GERALD ITHANA

Mutiso Mweu 

Over the festive season a friend got a rude shock when he was denied entry into his sibling’s party. Reason?

He was yet to get the Covid-19 vaccine. Another was recently denied entry into a mall as she had no “valid Covid-19 vaccine certificate”.

These episodes not only mirror the fear and anxiety that has gripped society since the emergence of Covid-19, but also reflect the diversity of opinion and potential policy actions locally and globally. 

They also bring into sharp focus the enforcement, or lack of it, of the existing anti-discriminatory laws and the need for more advocacy of the same for more public and cooperate awareness. 

A recent High Court ruling that individuals yet to be vaccinated should not be denied government services went largely unnoticed with the Health CS Mutahi Kagwe briefly commenting that it was a welcome ruling and wondered why anybody would go to court as it had never been a government policy. 

Nevertheless, Kagwe and several government officials had been voicing such sentiments, ostensibly with a view of making people to get the jab.

It was the old school tactic of public directives, without force of law, but calculated to achieve a desired effect.

To win the war on Covid-19, and especially the vaccination campaign, health officials need to focus on the pertinent question. Why don’t some people want the jab? 

The simple answer is the massive misinformation by anti-vaxxers. The Covid 19 anti-vax movement rose soon after the emergence of Covid-19, fed by diverse conspiracy theories regarding the origin.

Traced in Wuhan, China, in late 2019, the pandemic went on to rampage the whole globe with some questioning whether it was not a secret biological warfare experiment gone awry. 

China, initially, did not help matters as it was rather economical with information, fuelling wild speculations and reinforcing the belief of high-level conspiracies to control and manipulate global citizenry.

 Religious fundamentalists were also rife with end-time theories, with many asserting that it was related to the so-called mark of the beast from Revelation without further details. 

When Covid-19 vaccines were being developed, it became fodder for anti-vaxxers.

All they needed to do was remark with a patient, patronising smirk “we told you so”. 

Anti-vaxxers range from mild to the extreme. There are those who dismiss the jab as not necessary since Covid-19 is “not a serious threat”. They are also skeptical regarding the lack of adequate research and trial of the vaccines. 

Others think they have a strong immunity and/or they are “not old” and so they don’t need additional protection. 

Some extremists think it is meant to tamper with the DNA, or reproductive system in a global scientific experiment. Folks have been watching too many sci-fi movies.

Which brings us to the point; the war against Covid-19 will not be won by chest-thumping declarations or force.

Information is power. These theories from anti -vaxxers get into people’s heads. Ask anyone who has not had the jab and you’ll get the drift. 

The key to fighting the misinformation is information. The health ministry has done a commendable job but more can be done.

It must be relentless in churning out fact after fact on Covid-19, while giving the right statistics especially regarding infections of the vaccinated and those not vaccinated.

It must mount a campaign of ads, documentaries and feature stories of people who have received the jab and show the benefits.

People will be won to the vaccine programme through persuasion and not coercion.

Meanwhile, the first cases of Flurona, a combination of the flu and corona, are being reported in Los Angeles, US, and Israel. Folks, let’s brace for some tough times. [email protected]

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