COVID 19 Vaccine: A new terror or a savior for mankind?

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Farrah Alarmanazi, a second-year Honor Medical student and the Vice president of IFMSA-GND. She was born and raised in Syria and studied in the United States of America, she currently lives in Ohio, USA. She 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.


“Don’t take the vaccine!” my cousin tells me, “It’s toxic!”

Her fear regarding the vaccine is not new to me. As a medical student, I am exposed to people who do not believe in vaccines, including some of my family members. Despite the fact that our family suffered from COVID-19, my cousin could not be convinced.

The fact is, social media is playing a big role in spreading misleading information and conspiracy theories, none of which are medically accurate. Some examples include (2): 

  • The government is implanting microchips to track people 
  • It will alter your DNA
  • It will give you the virus 
  • Natural immunity from COVID-19 infection is better than the vaccine 

Even in the USA, where there are many sources to learn accurate information, people are still hesitant. NBC news reports that 60% of frontline workers in Ohio and 50% in California refuse to take the vaccine. (3) Why? 

62% of Americans feel uncomfortable to be the first to receive the vaccine. Broken by ethnicity, Black Americans are the least likely to take the vaccine, with 42% saying they would, compared to 61% of White adults, and 63% of Hispanics. (1) For example, a friend of mine volunteered to assist in vaccinations efforts even though she was not 100% convinced of its safety. But, when offered the vaccine, she took it because she had not seen any major events amongst the vaccinated people. However, another volunteer refused to take it, she identified as Black American. 

Black Americans fear stems from decades of mistreatment dating back to the Tuskegee Syphilis Study in the 1930s. 600 Black men were enrolled in a Syphilis study but not given enough information to provide informed consent, and when an effective treatment became available, they were intentionally deprived from receiving it. (5) So, what can Vaccine campaigns do to increase public confidence in the vaccine? 

They need to build trust with the public, this can be done by using various platforms to target different populations. Starting with newspapers, online articles, Facebook, Twitter, Tik Tok, etc. No platform must be underestimated, as each one is a potential place for spreading disinformation. Educational materials should be distributed in different languages and be understandable to the general public. 

Moreover, people listen to someone they trust, thus, collaborating with local public figures and encouraging people to share taking the vaccine on social media is an effective strategy. I can personally attest that seeing positive outcomes from friends encourages me to take the vaccine and that may convince some of my family members as well. 

Despite conspiracy theorists trying to terrorize the population by spreading wrong information, there is a lot we as medical professionals and trusted members of the community can do to help. We need to step up, collaborate with vaccination campaigns and ensure that people have access to medically accurate information. One thing we know for sure, the vaccine has undergone rigorous clinical trials and proved more than 95% effective at providing protection against COVID-19. (4)

Reference: 

  1. Funk, Cary, and Alec Tyson. “Intent to Get a COVID-19 Vaccine Rises to 60% as Confidence in Research and Development Process Increases.” Pew Research Center Science & Society, Pew Research Center, 30 Dec. 2020, www.pewresearch.org/science/2020/12/03/intent-to-get-a-covid-19-vaccine-rises-to-60-as-confidence-in-research-and-development-process-increases/.
  2. Keilman, John. “No, COVID-19 Vaccines Don’t Contain Satan’s Microchips (and Other Scary Conspiracy Theories Aren’t True Either).” Chicagotribune.com, Chicago Tribune, 5 Jan. 2021, www.chicagotribune.com/coronavirus/ct-covid-coronavirus-vaccine-conspiracy-myths-20201215-ubpqu26xarh75gksodmqhgnrp4-story.html.
  3. Madani, Doha. “Many Front-Line Workers Refuse Covid Vaccines as Distribution Rollout Struggles.” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, 31 Dec. 2020, www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/many-frontline-workers-refuse-covid-19-vaccines-distribution-rollout-struggles-n1252617.
  4.  Polack, Fernando P., et al. “Safety and Efficacy of the BNT162b2 MRNA Covid-19 Vaccine.” New England Journal of Medicine, vol. 383, no. 27, 10 Dec. 2020, pp. 2603–2615., doi:10.1056/nejmoa2034577.
  5.  Press, Associated. “Amid Coronavirus Pandemic, Black Mistrust of Medicine Looms.” Modern Healthcare, 5 Apr. 2020, http://www.modernhealthcare.com/patient-care/amid-coronavirus-pandemic-black-mistrust-medicine-looms. 

About the author

Farrah Alarmanazi, a second-year Honor Medical student and the Vice president of IFMSA-GND. She was born and raised in Syria and studied in the United States of America, she currently lives in Ohio, USA. She’s an advocate for global health and medical education, cultural competence, diversity and inclusion. She was the director of IFMSA-GND Public Health committee, directing a mental health campaign, the Mini-Med School and Teddy bear clinic at two local orphanages in Grenada. She’s a strong advocate for refugee health and Co-founded Students organize for Syria organization at her undergraduate institution along with a successful refugee educational program.   

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