Op-ed: what hampers vaccination in South Ossetia
The process of vaccination against coronavirus in South Ossetia, as well as in many other countries and regions, is facing various obstacles. The main problem is the skeptical attitude towards vaccination of a part of the population, as well as the lack of an effective information campaign about the benefits of vaccines.
In total, according to official data, more than 5,000 people have had the virus in South Ossetia. There is no official data on the death toll. Journalist, blogger and entrepreneur Alan Parastaev explains how the vaccination process is going on in South Ossetia and what people think about it.
According to official data, at this moment 1,020 people have been vaccinated throughout the republic. Moreover, more than 800 of them are those who were injected with two components of the vaccine. This is a lot or a little, given that the population of South Ossetia is more than 50,000, it is difficult to say. Probably not enough – in comparison with countries where vaccination has become a state program and where campaigns have been developed and are being implemented to maximize the spread of vaccination.
Or in comparison with those states where citizens are forcible given antioxidant vaccinations.
What affects the vaccination process and to what extent is a question to which there are many answers: from a low level of awareness about the coronavirus in general to a reference to the national mentality.
They say that the Ossetians are “the most fearless, the strongest and healthiest people, who do not care about anything”. Some do not believe statistics, some just act as if the virus does not exist.
Vaccination and policy
The situation with the vaccination of the population was not significantly influenced either by the announcement of the self-isolation of the President of the Russian Federation, Putin, or the South Ossetia’s refusal of help in the fight against the pandemic, offered by the representatives of the UN, OSCE and EU who visited South Ossetia.
For the second week now, the liberal press has been buzzing about the fact that the Russian leader, who promoted the effectiveness of the Russian vaccine by his personal example, still went into quarantine and thus “tarnished” the reputation of “Sputnik V”. But in South Ossetia this fact was not particularly discussed – neither in the press, nor among the people.
Regarding the statement of our President Anatoly Bibilov, which he made at a meeting with observers at the Geneva Discussions – from the OSCE, the EU and the UN. He stated that “we will handle these (COVID-19) challenges ourselves”. Because of this, I was afraid that the people, having heard this, would draw conclusions that the danger was not as serious – since we refused help, and that we are ready to help Georgia – and they will become less careful, for example, by refusing to wear masks and follow other sanitary measures, or getting vaccinated.
Why don’t people want to get vaccinated?
According to my observations, those who opposed and did not believe in vaccination continue to remain unconvinced. But at the same time, the Ministry of Health assures that the number of people wishing to be vaccinated with the Russian Sputnik V vaccine is growing. These are probably those who belonged to the category of vacillators.
And in fact, in the vaccination office, I was informed that at the end of the summer, during the period when the pandemic began to spread, up to five people a day came for vaccinations, and sometimes even one or two. And in the last week, dozens are counted daily.
But as I wrote above, the number of ardent opponents of vaccination and those who do not believe in the existence of the pandemic itself as such is not falling. More and more often, meeting friends and acquaintances, I become an object of agitation and persuasion.
Most often it turns out that by personal examples they try to convince me not to get vaccinated, not to get a shot of Sputnik or any other vaccine. Moreover, these are not just words.
The elderly man, who had been unemployed for a long time and was interrupted on short-term part-time jobs, finally got a quite acceptable job. Not dusty, so to speak, in a pleasant team and within his expertise, with his qualifications he was more than satisfied with the employer.
But the latter set a condition for mandatory vaccination, and my friend left this job without even thinking twice.
This is due to the complete confidence in the harmfulness of the vaccine. Even in response to my persuasion and the argument that I myself was grafted, he with even greater confidence denied the benefits and, in general, the effectiveness of Sputnik V.
Moreover, he assured me that the vaccine is deadly, or at least makes a person disabled and completely kills the immune system. “You may not get sick with this rubbish”, were his words, “but you will die of kidneys or you can go blind”.
“Do not do and do not believe this vaccine, this is propaganda, a worldwide conspiracy! My father lost his memory after the second vaccination, he doesn’t recognize me at all, it’s a nightmare”, said another friend of mine, five years younger than me. His father was about 70 years old. Until recently he worked as a carpenter and never wrote down the sizes of orders, because he remembered them. And then he lost his memory, does not remember not only recent events, but also what happened the day before.
Lack of information
The first example clearly indicates that there is some kind of anti-vaccination propaganda among the people. Whether it was created artificially or spontaneously, is not yet clear. There has even been a talk about the anti-vaccination wave being a part of a world conspiracy to make more people die.
But I could not object to the second example, there were simply no counterarguments. And where do they come from if there is no campaigning for citizens to be vaccinated. We need actors and all sorts of prominent figures to tell us: “I’m not afraid of vaccinations, if I need to inject – I will do it”.
But where the side effects come from, and what you need to know and do to avoid them, or at least reduce – we do not know because no one told us.
Photos on the main page: Towfiqu barbhuiya, unsplash.com
Terms, place names, opinions and publication ideas do not necessarily coincide with those of JAMnews or its individual employees. JAMnews reserves the right to remove comments on posts that are deemed offensive, threatening, violent or otherwise ethically unacceptable.