The Vaccine War is Coming
In a year full of trauma and upset, the race to produce a vaccine is nearing the finish line with a number of companies going for FDA approval in the US. We are in the final chapter of this disease, if everything goes well.
As they say, good news comes in threes, and three companies have produced successful trials in as many weeks.
Coupled with this success comes the banner frontpage headline from one newspaper that seven in ten Irish people would take a vaccine, which is somewhat surprising.
What is even more surprising is that in France, one in three people disagreed that vaccines are safe, the highest percentage of any country worldwide. Globally, eight in ten people say vaccines are safe.
The figures are quoted from the Welcome Global Monitor 2018. Despite the survey being two years old, there is a clear positive relationship between overall trust in scientists, as measured by the Welcome Trust in Scientists Index and overall attitudes towards vaccines with an underlying message that the relationship is strongest in high income countries.
Despite relatively high levels of vaccine scepticism of vaccines in many countries, 92% worldwide say that their children have received a vaccine to prevent childhood diseases, while 6% said they did not and 2% said they did not know.
Covid-19 is the deadliest infectious disease in the West in decades. Unsure if governments will consider making the vaccine mandatory, I guess many would be fearful of trying to enforce such a rule. However, as citizens will need to take the vaccine and show proof of vaccination when going to work, attending college, going for hospital appointments, enjoying the cinema, shopping, sport or maybe even a restaurant.
When a vaccine, or vaccines, become approved and begin to be rolled out, Governments will have a mammoth task in convincing the entire population to get themselves vaccinated.
Undoubtedly, some people will want to wait and see whether a vaccine approved at such speed is safe, which is a reasonable viewpoint.
Elderly members of the community will be vaccinated first, and studies show that they are the least hesitant section of the community. Some vaccines need storage at -70 degrees Celsius, and Moderna’s at -20 degrees, to ensure they stay viable and stable.
In recent years, the ‘anti-vaxxers’ have been growing in numbers. Aided by the use of social media platforms, they have peddled lies and misinformation about every kind of vaccine and every kind of illness. Now that social media firms have cracked down on misinformation, it will be interesting to see how they handle the Vaccine Wars.
A Government will never be able to change these people’s minds about the safety of the vaccine. Its focus must be on ensuring the highest possible level of vaccination, not getting drawn into rows about the efficacy of the vaccine or trying to persuade people who cannot be persuaded.
We are sure broadcasters in Ireland must show balance to two opposing views. Therefore, if a Government minister is on the radio saying the vaccine is safe, the broadcaster duty bound to either have an opposing voice or provide the opposing voice themselves.
For this reason, the Government must not get drawn into the debate about the safety of the vaccine. Its focus must be on getting people who already think it is safe to go and get it.
Positive messaging is key. They will need to take an approach which is much more carrot than stick. Getting back to normal life, going to see your friends and grandparents, travelling abroad, going to Croke Park will all be possible if you take the vaccine.