UNTIL EVERYBODY IS SAFE, NOBODY IS SAFE is a United Nations’ slogan which makes the case for vaccinating everyone around the world. Failure to vaccinate prolongs the pandemic—with all the massive social, health and economic costs that entails—and allow new possibly vaccine-resistant variants to flourish, putting everybody back in danger.
We’ve seen new COVID-19 cases here in Curaçao drop dramatically, but we cannot lean back. We have to stay vigilant. Many countries struggle because they haven’t been able to get their hands on the COVID-19 vaccines. We, on the other hand are among the fortunate ones to have vaccines for everyone. Why should we care about what goes on elsewhere? COVID-19 has taught us—at a terrible human cost—that we all live on a interconnected planet and our fate is in each others’ hands.
We cannot lean back either whilst false information is leading to people hesitating to take the vaccine. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that those hardest hit by the pandemic are often those most likely to be skeptical of vaccination. Here we have to double our efforts to try to dispel some of the vaccine myths which are a real threat to public health, i.e. the health of everybody. A study by the University of Illinois this year found that 63% of vaccine-sceptic people changed their minds after reading/watching news reports about people who had already been successfully vaccinated. The study also found that people are more likely to be hesitant when politicians talk about the need to vaccinate or contact them directly with information on how to get vaccinated. Now is probably the time to stop pointing fingers at the antivaccine movement, and change our communication strategy.