The debate on whether to take, or not to take, COVID-19 vaccines has been raging on for the past few months – ever since the announcement by the world’s major pharmaceutical companies of their alleged breakthroughs, and the subsequent global frenzy in procuring and administering these medications, on a panicked and desperate population, which has been spooked by a pandemic that has claimed over a million lives worldwide – nonetheless, the concerns by numerous people, who are wary of taking these vaccines should be treated with the respect they deserve, as this is largely a personal health matter.
In as much as this pandemic has certainly devastated the entire world – and, transformed how we manage our day to day lives in ways that no one could have ever dreamt of – the fact still remains that, the issue of vaccines being the panacea to this problem is still not known, even to the scientists who developed these vaccines, since the jury is still out on the real extent of their efficacy and safety, considering that there are numerous grey areas as to how they will react to the virus, and the subsequent variants, as well as the recipients, in the immediate short term, or medium, and long run.
That being the case, I find it extremely irresponsible, callous, and unwarranted for anyone – no matter what social status, political clout, or professional qualifications – to attempt to influence the population on whether to take, or not to take, vaccines that clearly are still shrouded in mystery – a fact that even the scientists behind them readily acknowledge, a common and expected phenomenon for any medication that has just been recently developed, as there is so much more to learn, discover, and correct.
As a matter of fact, that is why all these COVID-19 vaccines are still regarded to be in their experimental stages, and the pharmaceutical companies that developed them understood to have signed “zero liability”, or indemnity, agreements with all relevant world governments, in order to protect themselves from any litigation, should any of those injected with the vaccines exhibit adverse side effects.
Thus, who are we to have the audacity to urge other people either to take, or not to take, the vaccine? What gives me the confidence – which even the vaccine developers clearly do not have – to declare that I know what is safe or not safe?
In actual fact, if I were to be one of those influencing the populace to take these vaccines, recklessly claiming them to be safe – would I be prepared to be sued should any adverse side effects manifest in the short, medium, or long run, and those affected allege that they agreed to the vaccine due to my influence?
On the same note, let us understand one vital thing – side effects do not necessarily occur immediately, unless in the case of an allergic reaction – since some well known medications (that have been around for a very long time, and whose effects well documented) have been attributed to several long term side effects, such as development of cancers, diabetes, infertility, addiction, and other conditions, years after being taken – and as such, I find it thoroughly disturbing that our own political leaders in Zimbabwe would cite their continued existence, after having received the vaccine only a few days ago, as proof of its safety, and packaging that as ample evidence to rubbish any warnings of possible grave side effects.
As far as I am concerned, such action is the height of irresponsible leadership, which should be condemned by all justice and health loving people.
Similarly, there is now talk of possible mandatory vaccinations. Well, besides the obviously illegal nature of such an ill-advised move, which is in stack violation of the Public Health Act – characterized by the country’s president Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, and his spokesperson George Charamba, announcing that the government was mulling the idea, and those who will not be vaccinated would not be eligible for jobs, and access to public transport – my question is, “Should they succeed in, firstly, violating the law – by forcing us to take the vaccine – if any one of us was to suffer immediate, short, medium, or long term adverse effects, would we be able to institute legal action against those involved in forcing us”?
If the government of Zimbabwe is serious with their plan to force the population into receiving these COVID-19 vaccines, then they need to firstly agree to accept responsibility, and be litigated against, should anything go wrong – of course, as social justice activists, we would have utilized every avenue to ensure that the Public Health Act is adhered to, and no one is forced into taking any medication that they do not want.
That is a fundamental human right, which should be religiously protected.
Every individual has the right to make their own health choices – more so, concerning vaccines that are still in their experimental stages, and their real effects (both positive and negative) relatively unknown – and, should never be unduly influenced by anyone (be it by coercion, or persuasion).
Besides, from my own understanding, vaccines by their very nature, do not make anyone immune to infection, but rather are meant to protect an infected person from falling sick – since, the body would have been induced into producing antibodies to fight the infection – and, as such, those vaccinated could still be infected, and in turn, infect others, even though they (vaccinated persons) may not become gravely ill themselves.
Thus, where is the logic in permitting only vaccinated people access to public transportation, or giving them jobs – when they can still get infected, and still infect others? In fact, vaccinated people will still be obliged to wear face masks in public places, wash their hands regularly, and practice social distancing.
It is, thus, the duty of each and every one of us to carry out our own research into these vaccines, and make our own independent informed choices – as, this is strictly about personal health, and there will not be any turning back, should one decide to take the vaccine, then subsequently experience adverse side effects, today, tomorrow, next week, next month, or even years down the line – as these do not necessarily manifest immediately.
Anyone who has the audacity and callousness to influence others to take these vaccines – especially, touting them as safe – should, therefore, be prepared to face the consequences of their actions, should anything go wrong, as they would have the blood of innocent people on their hands.
© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and speaker. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Calls: +263715667700, or Calls Only: +263782283975 / +263733399640, or email: email@example.com