DURING an employee team building weekend many years ago, I was surprised to see one of our employees, a quiet, diminutive woman pushing 50 who never participated in any of the games during our annual Christmas parties, eagerly stand next to me at the zip-line queue.
She didn’t strike me as an adrenaline-pumping junkie so I casually remark, “Not scared?” She calmly replies, “Well, you’re jumping off the mountain too so why should I be scared?”
It was a light-bulb moment for me. I had not realized, till then, the power of example.
I thank all the health care professionals who have stepped up to be among the first to be vaccinated. You have sent a powerful message to the public: vaccines are safe.
“Why are people afraid of the vaccine?” my 96-year-old father asks me.
The fear stems, I believe, from the possible adverse reactions that may occur after vaccination. But causality has not been established in any of the blood clots and low platelet counts that have been reported.
So, at this point in time, the benefits of vaccination — prevention of hospitalization and death — still outweigh the risks.
But vaccine hesitancy continues to persist.
Some fear the needle, I hear. I fear the scalpel: I understand. But I must argue that while it may hurt a tiny bit to get poked by a needle, it’s only for a second or two. But anticipation, I know, is more terrifying than anything else.
Well — prepare to be brave because the world is in desperate need of vaccine heroes.
And while there are some who still reel from the already-debunked research of Andrew Wakefield linking vaccines to autism, others continue to be mired in the trauma of the Dengvaxia controversy.
Meanwhile, misinformation continues to flood our news feeds — that vaccines cause infertility and homosexuality or that vaccines are tools of espionage and enslavement. And conspiracy theories become more potent when peddled by political leaders, scientists and tele-evangelists, no matter how irrational.
But here’s the reality — the virus still rages, globally. The United States, due to its eagerness to ease restrictions, will likely follow the course of Europe, now on its third wave. We can stubbornly follow their path or we can wisely digress and learn from their mistakes.
We can save the economy and we can save our families — just not at the same time. This is why we need leaders who will make the painful choice to put lives over livelihoods even in a poverty-stricken nation. Because does it really make sense to prefer being unable to breathe than being unable to eat?
We can preach the Gospel or we can live a life that would make God proud.
I call on our leaders to lead by example — to advocate for science, safety protocols, safe vaccination and saving lives.