The enemy of the SARS-CoV2 vaccine: vaccine hesitancy

(John Cameron, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Eduardo Diaz, a second-year medical student, conducting his studies in Universidad de Panama (UP). He is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

Many people see, with doubt in their minds, the early arrival of vaccines for the virus that has kept us out of the reach of our loved ones for so long. It is, without a doubt, a flame of hope from which we can almost feel its warmth. But can herd immunity, which only a mass vaccination campaign can bring, be achieved?

This is a multilateral question, which has many sides to it: there are three main types of people, on what vaccination concerns. Vaccine-approving people, doubtful people (or hesitant, as well), and anti-vaxxers. This leaves us, future medical professionals, with a problem that we thought solved long ago. The presence of anti-scientific groups and pseudo-scientific groups or associations is not new to us. Nevertheless, their recent efforts have put a toll in the vaccination campaign worldwide, a toll reinforced by the confinement that many people have endured in the last couple of months, which have derived their attention from their daily life to their virtual life. This has led to people discovering videos and false information regarding the vaccines, even more false information than before the pandemic.

The acquisition of information leads to fear and, most importantly, vaccine hesitancy. Vaccine hesitancy is a growing setback to the medical field and humanity alike, and its fueled by the lack of educational information on the benefits of vaccination, which is used by the communities that oppose vaccination to strike doubt in the non-informed folks.

Anyone reading this may have an idea of the risks that involve vaccine hesitancy (and an overall vaccine opposition), but one of the main concerns of medical students and medical professionals alike is the resurgence of vaccine-preventable diseases, which were previously kept under control by immunization campaigns and, most currently, the management of the COVID-19 pandemic, which could cost more lives as the communities of anti-vaxxers grow.

This is the main reason why vaccine hesitancy workshops should be a “must-have” in medical schools and hospitals alike, to give our medical staff the right tools to help this surge of misinformed and vaccine-hesitant people. To show them why the vaccines are the most cost-efficient, in what fighting a disease concerns, and the benefits of vaccination. As medical students or professionals, it’s our duty to fight misinformation and fake news with education and up-to-date information.

About the author

Eduardo Diaz is a second-year medical student, conducting his studies in Universidad de Panama (UP). He is a member of IFMSA Panamá who enjoys learning about different topics and who’s resolve is to help improve his country’s medical education. A quote that he identifies with is: “The only limit to our realization of tomorrow, will be our doubts of today.”-Franklin D. Roosevelt

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