Imagine that in 2024, someone appears in a hospital’s emergency room breathing hard. He is said to have pneumonia and is hit by it badly. He tells the physician that he had contracted the coronavirus (Covid-19) a few years ago, in the middle of 2021. Unfortunately, he had refused to get vaccinated and ended up being infected with the coronavirus months after most people received their vaccines. Why did he refuse? Something related to misinformation about the virus, perhaps the development of vaccine manufacture, or a post he saw on a social media platform. He doesn’t really remember, even though his lungs do! By the end of the day, he would be on a ventilator!
What I would like to draw people’s attention to here is that if, for instance, a large section of members of society continue to hold that they will not get vaccinated, then their decision will cost them heavily. The impact may take longer to return in full speed and once that happens, it can shut down again due to the outbreak. Even mutated coronavirus will continue to spread and more people will die. Are we aware of the fact that each case of corona requires weeks of costly rehabilitation? Even after a pandemic fades, dozens of vaccine refusers could turn into hundreds of patients who need extra care, should they become ill.
However, if all of the adults who say they are satisfied with the vaccine they had received, perhaps more than half of the country would be immunised, which is somewhat less than herd immunity. Here, we have to think about this a little more, because the economy is struggling and its effects may also prolong if the virus continues to spread and undoubtedly as a result of people refusing to receive vaccination. But it certainly is a lesser loss in comparison to the people who lose their lives.
Once getting an appointment for vaccination becomes as easy as we’ll see over the next few months, will community members still say they won’t get the shot? Undoubtedly, the Supreme Committee for Pandemic Follow-up and the government hope that people’s reluctance to get vaccinated will decrease, especially with relentless pursuit to provide it.
Meanwhile, loosening restrictions on clusters is likely to increase the spread of altered or mutated viruses, especially since the health complications suffered by vaccine refusers who were infected with one of the new strains may be worse than those caused by the original strain. In fact, the most important thing here is for everyone to realise that we are still vulnerable to things coming in our way and anyone who has not taken at least this initial precaution. This is especially since we have a very vulnerable population group and they are children, as we know that they may not get sick and die like adults. But still they could get sick and die. Shouldn’t we think about this a little bit?
I think if you want to get people to do things like vaccination, community participation is the central thing here. Therefore, there is a supreme committee that monitors the pandemic and there is community communication. Hence, it is more appropriate for people who refuse to receive the corona vaccine to be aware that saying no to inoculation raises the economic loss to the country, not to mention its members and the rest of the community. I remind unvaccinated individuals that the threat of the coronavirus will not stop, and it will not become cheaper either.
Dr Yousuf Ali al Mulla, MD, Ministry of Health, is a medical innovator and educator. For any queries regarding the content of the column he can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org