Challenges in vaccination

A medical worker receiving a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the hospital Hotel-Dieu in Paris, on Jan 2, 2021 as part of a vaccination campaign for healthcare workers aged 50 and above. - AFP picA medical worker receiving a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the hospital Hotel-Dieu in Paris, on Jan 2, 2021 as part of a vaccination campaign for healthcare workers aged 50 and above. – AFP pic

LETTER: The World Health Organisation has identified vaccine hesitancy, defined as “the reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccines”, as one of the top 10 threats to global health.

A survey by the Pew Research Centre in November last year to gauge the number of Americans planning to obtain the Covid-19 vaccine found that 39 per cent of Americans say they definitely or probably would not get the vaccine.

In addition, 21 per cent of this group do not intend to get vaccinated and are “pretty certain” more information will not change their mind. Concern about the risk of being infected by the coronavirus, trust in the vaccine development process and personal experience when it comes to other vaccines were three factors shaping the intent of getting the Covid-19 vaccine identified in the survey.

According to another study surveying global trends in vaccine confidence conducted by researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, which was published in the medical journal The Lancet, vaccine uptake is determined primarily by trust in the importance, safety and effectiveness of vaccines, as well as perception in the religious compatibility of vaccines.

Researchers reported significant decrease in vaccine confidence in Indonesia between 2015 and last year due to “Muslim leaders questioning the safety of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, and ultimately issuing a fatwa claiming that the vaccine was haram and contained ingredients derived from pigs, and thus not acceptable for Muslims”.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the task of persuading the public to take up the Covid-19 vaccine will be just as challenging as the race to develop the vaccine. One may invest huge sums of money to develop the safest and the most effective vaccine in the shortest time possible, but should the public be averse to the vaccine, its utility — that is, its ability to cure the infected and to prevent transmission — will not be maximised.

We see groups openly declaring that they shall not permit themselves to be vaccinated although it is in their own personal, familial and social interests to do so. We see groups distrusting the scientific advice of public health experts regarding standard operating procedures and lockdowns for non-scientific reasons.

Therefore, in one sense, the rise of pseudo-science may be linked to inadequate and improper religious education. It is not so much the fault of religion, rather how religion is presented by its authorities and taught to the masses.

People are inclined to be sceptical towards science because religion as they learned it, which provides a worldview for most of them, did not make space nor indicate the proper place of the investigation of the natural world, that is, science.

Imagine instead if a young person was taught the contributions made by Muslims in science, philosophy, arts or history during their religious education. Imagine if they were taught how religious values impelled and influenced Muslims to investigate the world around them. Imagine if this person was taught that modern science owes a great debt to Muslims, as well.

Granted, this may not completely solve the so-called “problem” of religion versus science. But at least this young person will have an intellectual compass to guide him as he is gradually exposed to modern science while growing up.

by WAN MOHD AIMRAN WAN MOHD KAMIL

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters/2021/01/654536/challenges-vaccination

Comments are closed.