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CULTURE CLINIC: “Jab-Jab” vs. “No Jab”

How Necessary is this Vaccine?

To editors, journalists, priests, and politicians that might think that people find it “easy to refuse the vaccine”, please note that some Barbadians crave actual scientific data or sound reporting to make informed choices. The current debate, language, and incentives used to “encourage” people to take the COVID-19 vaccine without knowing and sharing the requisite scientific information raises ethical concerns. 

Barbados’s early success in managing the spread of COVID was lauded around this time last year. From March 2020 Barbadians kept up the schedule of masking, sanitizing, and social distancing. Shutting down the country became an effective strategy to slow down the effects of the initial outbreak. It was around this time too that we started receiving visitors, one of the early ones being Drake, the artist, and his team. We were concerned, cautiously optimistic and trusting. Barbados COVID-care system created this “bubble” that we enjoyed until November 2020 when it is believed that a few irresponsible visitors began what was our last major outbreak. 

As we endured, various companies created and distributed various vaccines in an unusually short period. Once completed, tested, and approved, these vaccines promised only to lessen serious effects if one gets infected, none of the medics or scientists have suggested that individuals are more immune or less susceptible. However, these brand-name companies were shored up with indemnity clauses that recuse the companies, the countries, and the health-care providers for anyone getting sick or dying from any complication because of taking the vaccine. If available, the approval reports seem not to be part of the information shared on print, radio, television, or social media.

People with vaccinations are given favour at ports-of-entry and on the island. Some are flouting protocols, seeming to believe that the vaccination is contributing to the resistance of contracting the virus.

Now that we are cautiously re-opening our borders again, there is a growing sense of frustration targeted at Barbadians who have not been vaccinated, who do not have vaccination “documentation”. The public messaging, journalistic, and political public debate seems to be clear that errs on the side of the visitors’ feeling safe. This “pressure”, fueled by our dependence on tourism, especially to those working in the industry, is part of a growing trend that creates a “jab-jab” vs. “no-jab” binary when the science is not yet sufficiently clear. Meanwhile COVID still impacts our population, unvaccinated or not.

In the meantime, inquiring minds want to know:

Where is the scientific indication that COVID-19 vaccines are harmless? Doesn’t it take 5 to 10 years to gather enough data to make a thorough analysis of COVIDs behaviour, trends, and impact across populations and the effect of these vaccines? How are vaccines a significant factor for the flatlining of recent cases? What is the percentage of people testing positive who have also been vaccinated? What is the recovery rate of those inoculated with the vaccine when compared to those who have not?

Finally, how is “waiting to be sure” harming others? Can someone convince me?

Culture Clinic is a weekly column crafted by Dr. John Hunte. Photography by Adrian Richards.

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