By Jamie Etheridge
Kuwait is now gearing up for a nationwide vaccine campaign, the recently approved Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for SARS-COVID-19. The Ministry of Health has already begun registration on its website, where anyone in Kuwait can register. Most likely frontliners and other at-risk groups will be the first to receive the vaccine but both my husband and I have registered and will take the vaccine as soon as it becomes available.
Vaccines are a controversial topic and already people across the globe are gearing up to fight against taking it. The Kuwait government has not made taking the vaccine mandatory. I have seen reports some airports and airlines might require proof of vaccine before allowing passengers to fly, though so far this seems to be just rumors.
The choice, for now at least, seems to be in our own hands. I’m choosing to vaccinate. Some people disagree. They are worried about how quickly this vaccine has been developed, that no one – including the vaccine makers nor the government and health authorities – know the long term consequences. They are right. There are a lot of unknowns. Taking a vaccine is a risk. Just like taking any drug or medication poses a risk.
But there is no denying that vaccines has served as a bulwark against a range of diseases like measles and polio that once ravaged entire communities, and especially vulnerable populations including children and those with compromised immune systems.
By taking the vaccine, I protect myself and my family and I also contribute to the accumulation of herd immunity that protects people – like those with allergies, the immune-compromised and pregnant women – who may not be able to take the vaccine safely. In other words, I protect myself, my family and my community.
Scientific advances have made in our understanding of the universe, our natural world and ourselves incredible gains over the last few centuries. Still a thousand years from now, if humans continue to exist, they may look back on our methods and think them ill-conceived and fueled by misunderstanding, superstition and ignorance. Future humans may look at us the way we regard once common practices like using leeches to bleed a sick person.
I am not a doctor nor a scientist. (There are plenty of clear, detailed explanations regarding the safety and efficacy of vaccines. The website CDC.gov has a very helpful FAQ that answers most common questions.) But I recognize that science is the best and only way forward for humanity. It is gradual. It is imperfect. But it is also systemic and evolving. It is the only method of understanding and living in this world that aims always to improve. When given a choice, I choose science.