COVID-19 vaccine and soldiers

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There is no denying the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is wreaking havoc in the lives of people and economies around the world. There have been many deaths and infections associated with the virus here and abroad. Many know someone intimately or through observation that has either been infected or died from complications associated with the virus. The news that vaccines are being produced to help in the fight against the virus is welcoming, though not without skepticism by some around the world about its safety and effectiveness.

Even though there are several vaccines available and by many producers there exists fear by some to take any of the vaccines. People fear for many reasons, including a concern that not much is known about the after effects of the vaccine, what could be the likely consequences to health should they take the vaccine, and in the case of the Sputnik which has not yet been approved by the World Health Organisation, fear for their lives.  Some have also been exposed to conspiracy theories about the vaccine.

Reservations and fear about vaccines are normal and a natural reaction of man to the unknown or where skepticism exists. This is not new or singular to Guyana but global. It is therefore fair to say that where these commonalities exist Guyana should look around and learn how other societies are dealing with them and adopt best practices. Withholding of hampers is not one such, especially in democratic and progressives society that Guyana should be taking its cue from.

It is unfair and inhumane to use food, or whatever is in those hampered for the soldiers, as an incentive for those who receive the vaccine and withhold from those who haven’t as yet taken the vaccine. It is cruel and callous and the Guyana Defence Force should not want to be associated with such a response or incentive plan.

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At the most humane level and given the sufferings associated with the floods, in what President Irfaan Ali himself described as a national disaster, people should not be deprived of any necessity that could help them get through these hard times. Before the floods the pandemic had already placed significant hardship on people and many are finding it difficult to make ends meet.  Things are not likely to improve shortly if some national sustained action is not taken to bring relief to the widespread deprivation.

Our men and women in uniform have themselves and families to provide for and are too affected by the pandemic and floods. And even as they are affected, the fact that they are putting on their uniform every single day and guarding the borders of Guyana, keeping us safe, should say something about their patriotism, love of country and fellowman. As the citizens sleep they watch over us and Guyana. The least the Guyana Defence Force and Government could do for our soldiers is not deprive them of that hamper.



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