Humanity is in danger. Mass vaccination will help restore our freedom and prosperity, writes Dr Claudine Als.
The key word is "solidarity" in order to increase our strength against the virus. In 1940-44 we were at war and it was only through people's united action that we succeeded and could overcome it. In 2021, we will not win the battle without joint action; the novel coronavirus has already killed 1.7 million people. The crisis is immense: States are reaching the limits of their resources and populations are losing their freedoms.
Only mass vaccination against Covid-19 will help us overcome the pandemic, as well as stop the vicious circle of lockdowns. The virus will lose its strength if at least 70% of the population is vaccinated. After Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom, we will have the great privilege in Europe of being among the first served with vaccines.
Each of us can take advantage of the opportunity offered and protect ourselves. But the benefits of vaccination are measured per 100,000 population, not at the individual level. In the history of medicine, since the 18th century, vaccination has been a decisive factor in the progress of society, through better longevity, lower infant mortality, and the wealth and resilience of nations. Thus, for example, the war against smallpox was won thanks to vaccination. The general benefits to be expected from mass vaccination against Covid-19 far outweigh the possible risks.
There are at least 10 important reasons for getting vaccinated against Covid-19, depending on vaccine availability:
1. The expected medical effects of the vaccination against Covid-19 are important: reduction of the risk of mortality and of acute and chronic complications, reaching people of all ages, but especially the vulnerable. These complications include disability and loss of autonomy. Let's get vaccinated to avoid the multiplication of chronic health disabilities.
2. Vaccination will relieve our health system and reduce the strain of Covid patients in hospitals. Front-line health professionals, who are tired from long months of sleepless nights, are concerned about their huge workload and find it difficult to always provide a human response. At the start of 2021, in the event of an influenza epidemic, this would lead to a critical health situation, dangerous for all. Let's get vaccinated out of solidarity and respect for professionals on the Covid-19 front.
3. 5-10 vulnerable fellow citizens die every day in Luxembourg from the illness. This equates to a plane full of passengers crashing every month. Wouldn't as many deaths on a plane every month generate more waves than all those deaths by Covid-19? This is a dire situation that we cannot ethically tolerate without taking action if we are still to be able to look at ourselves in the mirror. We are all responsible, because tomorrow it will possibly be the turn of our loved ones. Out of humanity and respect, let's get vaccinated in order to stop this slaughter.
4. In retirement homes and care centers for the elderly, lockdown is the cause of extreme loneliness among seniors, who sometimes do not see their families for months and are condemned to die in solitude. Conversely, their loved ones cannot say goodbye to their parents and grief is therefore made difficult. Out of humanity and dignity, let's get vaccinated in order to alleviate the distress of seniors.
5. Young people have also been forced into lockdown, sitting lonely at home in front of the computer in remote education, depriving pupils and students of face to face dialogue with their peers and teachers. Young people cannot see and live with their friends, play sports in groups, celebrate and meet new people, flirt and have romantic relationships, have life experiences that are essential to forge a personality. Let's get vaccinated so that young people have the opportunity to live their lives, to become responsible adults.
6. The most affected independent sectors are those of hospitality, hotels and events, representing many jobs. Under repeated lockdowns, companies operate for the most part in partial unemployment or are at a complete standstill. Many of them have seen their income decline. Let's get vaccinated out of solidarity, respect and a feeling of fairness towards the self-employed, to avoid layoffs and mass unemployment.
7. One area most affected by confinement is that of culture, stimulating soul and identity, an element of cohesion in our society. The closure of theaters and artists' lack of contact with their audiences are painful for those concerned, many of whom do not have a solid financial situation. Let's get vaccinated out of solidarity and respect so that cultural life can be renewed for the benefit of our minds.
8. States have contracted huge debts to finance the management of the health crisis and we are in an economic recession, while the field is free for China, whose GDP increased during the crisis. Billions of debt will strain our budgets for decades. Let's get vaccinated, let's be responsible and in solidarity with the current young generation, who will have to shoulder the heavy burden of the public debt.
9. Our emotional well-being depends on the thousand human links through our networks. As these interactions have become rare, we have lost our usual benchmarks. As a result of lockdowns, the tendency for depression, anxiety, psychosis and suicide has increased, as has domestic violence. Le's get vaccinated, let us be in solidarity with those who suffer in their soul, so that the joy of living returns.
10. In terms of the fight against infectious diseases, we were in the process of defeating them (polio) or containing them (cholera, HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, etc.). Stopping research in this field has a negative impact; for example, multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis is likely to spread. In order to promote the resumption of infection control programs, let's get vaccinated out of a sense of fairness towards those exposed in the Third World.
In conclusion, in a global pandemic, mass vaccination against Covid-19 - a date surely marked in history - has multiple ethical implications. The challenge is major; our free way of life is in danger. Being vaccinated means boosting the troops that will block the aggressive progression of the virus. Getting vaccinated, to protect yourself and others, is an act of solidarity, respect, fairness and responsibility for collective health, because the average state of health of a population is a parametre of well-being, prosperity and the future.
Dr Claudine Als
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