I confess at this stage I lean more towards yes.
But in recent days I’ve heard from quite a few of my friends who’ve argued for no (and my friends aren’t anti-vaxxers!).
So I thought it may be good to look at both sides.
The Yes position seems pretty straightforward. This Covid-19 virus has wreaked absolute havoc throughout the country and the world; people have died, lost their jobs, suffered permanent respiratory problems and so on.
Why shouldn’t the government force everyone to get vaccinated? With every vaccine roll-out, the number of potential infections drop, the number of potential deaths fall and the healthcare system (not to mention the economy!) gets a chance to recover.
If you don’t require everyone to get the vaccine, then aren’t we condemning certain families and communities into needless “bubbles” of Covid-19 terror.
The country makes it mandatory to vaccinate babies and children against all kinds of diseases (Hepatitis B, tuberculosis, etc.) so why the hesitation when it comes to a vaccine against a virus which has caused so much trauma around the world? Isn’t this a no-brainer?
Well, not quite.
The people who say no — those I’ve spoken to and communicated with on social media — think differently.
They express concern about the safety of these vaccines which they feel have been rushed out of Western and Chinese (and Russian?) labs.
We all know that such vaccines usually take many years and tests before they are deemed safe to use, but somehow for Covid-19 it came out so fast?
And what about the side-effects? How sure are we that there will be none? Sure, the Pfizer and Moderna trials “sound” safe in the news but, hey, these are research procedures done by profit-making companies, so shouldn’t we be concerned about the bias involved?
Isn’t it better to give people the option to wait, observe the results over time, be sure about the long-term effects, then choose to take or not take the vaccine?
Because, will the government pay for my treatment should I have an allergic reaction to the vaccine or what-not?
Which brings me to the objection from the principle of libertarianism i.e. people simply shouldn’t be forced to take medication without their consent. Isn’t it “my body” after all? End of story.
I suppose a rejoinder to the above is wouldn’t the No position effectively be an anti-vaxxer one? To which the No folks say, “Not at all.”
We simply can’t compare the Covid-19 vaccines to all the other vaccines which have been around for years if not decades, hence our general assurance about their long-term effects.
Personally, I am not a medical expert and I’m not in government so I’d rather reserve judgment.
After listening to the No position, my non-medical opinion remains Yes. We should make the vaccine mandatory while strictly monitoring the process and honestly disseminating information should there be serious side-effects or whatever.
It might help if a longer time frame is given so people who are hesitant to take the vaccine are given a year or more to “wait and see.”
But I agree with the No folks that it should at least be discussed and that this is not an easy decision.
Then again, these aren’t easy times at all, are they?
This is the personal opinion of the columnist. First published in Malay Mail.
- Tags: COVID-19 vaccine