Hometown Thinking

No matter how many times your mother has asked your grandmother to register to get a COVID-19 vaccine, she has adamantly rejected her. Your grandmother is more afraid of getting the vaccine than getting COVID-19. Her logic doesn’t make much sense to me knowing that she still sees videos, as recently as yesterday, taken from hospital wards in Ho Chi Minh City showing dead bodies in her Facebook feed. Maybe your grandmother knows something that we don’t know. Maybe she’s part of the older majority who COVID-19 doesn’t really affect. But I’d get the vaccine if I were her because the stats are definitely less favorable for her age group than mine.

God know exactly what your grandmother sees in her Facebook feed about the COVID-19 vaccines but, back in May, news had broke in Vietnam about a 35-year-old female health worker dying a day after receiving her first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which was Vietnam’s first COVID-19 vaccine related death. Even though the professional council for the An Giang health department tried to make it clear that her death was the result of a rare allergic reaction, enough people lost at least some confidence in it. I think whatever your grandmother has seen on Facebook about the vaccine combined with that incident is the reason she doesn’t want it.

There’s some merit to that argument though. We don’t know exactly how many people worldwide have died after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. I don’t think anyone really knows because reporting is largely voluntary and countries don’t like to share information, regardless. Nonetheless, deaths as a result of the vaccination happen and they probably happen more often than we are led to believe even if the likelihood is insignificant. Last I read, more than 12,000 people died post-vaccination in the U.S. alone as of mid-July. They can’t all be coincidence.

Although vaccine related deaths made news headlines early on, coverage practically stopped ever since those initial reports. Is it fair? No. While we have heard about COVID-19 related deaths every day for the last 17 months and many sad stories to go along with them, someone who died from a COVID-19 vaccine doesn’t get any press. They’re people too. They have families. They have stories. Obviously, both governments and businesses have determined their stance. Ensuring people make an informed decision is not in their best interest.

However, in your grandmother’s case, I believe it’s more important for her to get the vaccine than risk death. Her decision to forgo vaccination might be consequential as Vietnam’s health system is inadequate even on a good day. I find it ironic that she strongly believes in the Communist Party of Vietnam, yet doesn’t trust its judgement. She’d rather believe someone on Facebook.

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