Vaccine hesitancy and distribution channels | By Haya Fatima Sehgal


Vaccine hesitancy and distribution channels

NEWS of the Cansino and the Sputnik Vaccines comes at the right time and is a welcome relief to hear. The third wave of the virus in Pakistan is moving quickly as the Covid-19 cases continue to rise.

Initial mistrust of the virus itself now remains coupled with disinformation the general public has been fed about the vaccines.

Earlier there were murmurs of discontentment as to why there was an indecision to import of vaccines through private channels.

There is much work to do here as far as vaccine hesitancy is concerned as well as the distribution of it via the most effective channels.

One must say, the authorities have been facing several challenges this past year and so far, done well amidst the chaos and disruption caused within the country.

The government has been facing one of the toughest battles during the global pandemic. One must acknowledge the role they have played during this past year.

The authorities had not only to strategize and manoeuvre through a global pandemic but also through those who have placed obstacles in the way. Covid-19 has created a global disruption on life as we know it.

As millions globally faced starvation due to unemployment and lockdowns, it was Pakistan which could rely on Ehsaas its relief program for its daily wage workers and those living below poverty level.

Despite all this the authorities have faced an unfair and brutal onslaught of criticism and media hype.

All this from a now rather dissolved opposition forming long marches and mass gatherings despite the spread of the virus through this activity that would have occurred.

This handful of people have questioned every move being made even the most beneficial ones including a Khana Ghar.

We must be aware that the Pakistani population has also been fed with an immense amount of disinformation about the vaccines, mostly through social media channels which were laden with conspiracy theories.

This subject must be addressed by our leaders more avidly. One could utilize public figures and campaigns by influencers taken on board to create awareness.

There still remains a percentage that remains unwilling to take the vaccine or, as polls have found, disbelieves the novel coronavirus even exists. Essentially, an aggressive awareness drive must be launched to dispel this notion.

A word must be said about bringing vaccines through private channels. People going to the private clinics are not elite or a privileged to be ousted or shamed; they have been doing so for decades and so have the current authorities and their families.

Healthcare in this country has both private and public channels. Shaming people on this matter has caused a divide and unsettled the people.

If there are people who can afford to pay for healthcare which includes the cost of the vaccine privately, according to their means, let them get it. The main concern should be getting the entire population vaccinated from all ends- by whichever means.

That should be the primary goal. Let other vaccines come in as well and let the people decide for themselves.

Now the private channels are open; it would be a good idea to open up the remaining tier groups up as well.

Official numbers are showing that Pakistan is far behind on inoculating its population in comparison to other countries. One should encourage the inflow of other vaccines considering the long-term benefits.

Vaccine hesitancy in itself will cause hiccups, agreed, but creating an additional blockage with reservations about private channels would have caused a further delay.

With some key decisive actions such as the recent news, concerns will be quelled soon and our distribution channels are now open to work with the utmost efficiency.

A fully vaccinated population should be the vision with the faith of all the people in their leaders.

The current authorities have done their utmost in this situation with great perseverance- let us applaud them on their efforts.

—The writer is known for her articles on Cultural Impact Change.

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