COVID Vaccination: A Beacon of Hope or Cause for Despair?

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Julia Neves, Queens University.


Coronavirus has been a global tribulation: bringing high death tolls, unemployment, declining mental health, and loss of normalcy. However, as the anniversary of the global outbreak approaches it leaves us to wonder, have we created a new normal? Wearing a mask has become a habit to many, online school no longer feels temporary, businesses are closing down, and cleaning everything that enters the home has become the norm. Many have adjusted to these changes, developing a new routine. Now hope has arisen with the new vaccine as many countries have begun to vaccinate their populations. Countries like Brazil, the United States and Canada have chosen to vaccinate those who are at risk and medical professionals first, after which they will vaccinate the rest of the population. This will be a step forward towards reducing the numbers of active COVID-19 cases, however due to the actions of a selfish few there have been issues with the vaccination process.

Governments have chosen to vaccinate high risk individuals first: They are either in contact with COVID-19 patients or have a high mortality rate if they contract the virus. Individuals who are lying, scheming, or even stealing vaccines are putting these high-risk groups in danger. An example of this occurred in Canada recently in which Rodney and Ekaterina Baker stole vaccines meant for an indigenous tribe. The Bakers flew to Beaver Creek, claimed to be local motel workers, got vaccinated, and then left for the airport. They stole these vaccines from an indigenous group in Yukon home to many elderly people. Therefore the two not only stole, but could have infected an at risk individual. They were charged under the Civil Emergency Measures Act, which has a maximum fine of CDN$500 ($392 USD) plus a CDN$75 surcharge, six months in jail, or both depending on the court’s decision. This shows how far people will go in order to get their needs met disregarding the needs of others. Sadly, this is not the only case in which foul play has occurred in the vaccination process.

Picture this, your grandmother who is 97 years old clearly in the high-risk group due to her age and additional health complications. Her caretaker takes a video to send to your family of your grandmother receiving the vaccine. After rewatching the video, the caretaker notices that the health professional inserted the needle, but never injected the vaccine. This situation occurred in Brazil in the region Alagoas and has caused many to question the health worker who “administered” the vaccine and their motives. So far no punishment has been given, but the individual has been identified. Another case in Brazil occurred in Rio Grande do Sul in which a 12 year old was vaccinated using the CPF of a dead person. A CPF is the Brazilian version of a social security number making this situation akin to identity theft. Brazil’s vaccine plan stipulates that no persons under 18 are to receive a vaccine for the time being due to the small stock of vaccines and prioritizing at-risk individuals. Whether this incident was purposeful on the part of the family or an administrative error leads us to question how many more people are being vaccinated through illegal means.

In the United States, a pharmacist in Wisconsin left vials out purposefully. Most vaccines including the Pfizer COVID-19 one must be stored at a certain temperature in order to be effective. Pharmacist Steven Bradenburg believed that the vaccine was “unsafe” and “would alter and harm DNA”. He attempted to sabotage over 500 vials of the COVID-19 vaccine and was only caught when another pharmacy technician found the tray over a day later. Brandenburg confessed that he believed conspiracy theories about the vaccine and had committed the crime to stop the injections from ‘harming’ people. Some of the vials had been used which, unlike correctly administering the vaccine, does have a possibility of causing harm – as the vaccine was not designed to be used in room temperature. If the manufacturer deems the doses unusable then Bradenburg achieved his goal – at least 500 vaccines will not be distributed.

The COVID-19 vaccination process has had many drawbacks due, in part, to entitled individuals taking it upon themselves to serve their own wants before others needs. Certain people are being vaccinated first because they are in danger, or are vital to saving others lives. It is not a question of who wants to be vaccinated, but who – having been vaccinated – will make the most positive impact towards ultimately ending the pandemic. The younger demographic have a lower mortality rate upon catching COVID and it is logical to give those with a lower survival rate the vaccine so that they have the antibodies to combat it – hopefully resulting in fewer deaths. If you are at risk and don’t qualify for the vaccine in your region at this time, the best thing you can do is follow public health guidelines. Put a mask on when in public, stay home, wash your hands, and don’t congregate with others. In order to reach a point where masks won’t be mandatory and concerts will start to happen again we must be patient with the vaccination process.



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