Remember polio vaccines ?
A handful of Pakistani netizens tried to promote a ‘stick policy’ relating to the methods of pressure on those unwilling to take the coronavirus vaccines.
Good thing it was a few short comments which disappeared as that was a serious lapse in judgement.
Forcing the population to take something they are hesitant about may cause an adverse reaction which is the last thing the country needs at this point. Pakistan must always keep in mind the reaction that remains till this day to the polio vaccines.
News of Polio workers being targeted time and again in a series of attacks, begs the question as to how can Pakistan incentivise the process of the Covid-19 jabs; not using undue pressure or force the population, rather managing it through public service messages of encouragement.
There are several who are willing but there remain some who have said they will avoid it unless it makes it impossible for them to survive- this in their own words.
Mistrust in the current vaccines offerings currently have led many to hesitate naturally. News in which it was announced they will shut down the SIMS of those not wanting to take the vaccines was something of a miss – as it requires you to register via your mobile phone for them in the first place.
Everybody has to take the coronavirus vaccine, this much is true. However, to encourage willingness, there must be a further exploration of media campaigns and outreach programs.
There is stigma and intense fear still attached to the polio vaccines till this day especially in the rural areas which could be the same in the case of the coronavirus vaccinations.
Incentivise the population; reassure to good news on the benefits. The benefits could include access to amenities.
We get to hear Pakistan is opening up outdoor seating, public halls, cinemas and relaxing Covid restrictions in the country. This must mean we are slowly getting back to normal and are doing better than before.
With travel opening up several tourism spots, those wanting to take a holiday abroad after months of isolation and restrictions will run for the jabs as well naturally.
There remains the discomfort that all jabs are not the same. The population that is returning to jobs abroad or the students who require the approved vaccines in the country they are travelling to must be sorted in all fairness.
Pakistan has had adequate support from the outside world in donated vaccinations. They must be made available to the civilians.
Simultaneously a program must be in place to cover costs to purchase effective vaccines sooner than next year or end of the year.
Currently Pakistan population seems to be isolated and cut off from the rest of the world with its policy to only offer the majority of its population only the Chinese jabs which is not being accepted in spots across the world. It has also been rejected due to the data based on its efficacy.
There was also some trouble in the Capital for those who required the Astra Zeneca to travel and supplies had fallen short or not being made available. There will be chaos at some point that will ensue over these matters.
The authorities should speed up the process of acquiring top tier vaccines now and investing in purchasing these for the nation.
Somewhere this must have been budgeted for. We cannot surely call ourselves a ‘welfare state’ when we are receiving welfare throughout. A bit of a misnomer there.
The race to inoculate the entire nation is present – nobody is safe until everybody is as the saying goes.
Current authorities have worked hard for this nation throughout the pandemic and for that one is grateful.
However, they need to work on the recovery plan for this country. It would do better to ensure best practices and decisions made for the next few months.
—The writer, based in Islamabad, is known for her articles on cultural impact.