The Resistance of Vaccination

While more than 80 per cent of Singaporeans have been vaccinated against COVID-19, there are still some who choose to remain unvaccinated. Isaiah Chua investigates the reasons why some individuals still resist vaccination.

The elderly also do not want to get vaccinated because they may be socially isolated. Photo by Isaiah Chua.

BY
Isaiah Chua
Lifestyle Section Editor
Hype Issue #53

Published on
October 29, 2021

With no indication of a cure for COVID-19 in the near future, society has turned to vaccination as its only source of protection against the virus. Governments around the world are adamantly pushing for higher vaccination rates in their respective countries, and Singapore is no different.

Despite this, there has been a significant division among the population regarding this solution, whether to trust the vaccines or not.

Reasons for avoiding the vaccine vary from person to person, depending on how informed they are about the vaccine and the virus.

The Elderly

Due to a lack of reliable information about the vaccine and fear of its potential side effects, many of the elderly refrain from taking the COVID-19 vaccine.

An article published by Rice Media investigated the reasons why some seniors still refuse to get vaccinated. Their reasons range from fear of their existing medical conditions worsening to not being afraid to die.

Death is an inevitable outcome for seniors with pre-existing health conditions. Meanwhile, vaccinations may seem daunting and unappealing for seniors who have little prior knowledge about the vaccine.

The rapid dissemination of misinformation about the vaccine is also another factor concerning the elderly. The rumours circulating about vaccine-related deaths instil uncertainty in seniors who want to avoid a COVID-related death.

Upon hearing about the death of a 72-year-old woman on Jun 4, 2021, many were quick to posit the illegitimacy of the vaccine and its health risks. This is because the woman had passed away a day after receiving her COVID-19 jab.

Although there seemed to be a convenient correlation, the cause of death was determined to be ischaemic heart disease or a heart attack, eliminating the possibility of a vaccine-related death. However, seeds of scepticism had already been planted due to this incident.

Due to these reasons collectively, around 200,000 seniors have yet to be vaccinated as of Jul 26, 2021, despite the government’s efforts to encourage seniors to get vaccinated.

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The elderly also do not want to get vaccinated because they may be socially isolated. Photo by Isaiah Chua.

The Informed

The reasons are entirely different for those who are aware of the possible risks of the vaccine and the virus itself.

For Mr Thomas Tan, 45 (not his real name and age), the vaccine’s unknown variables are the reason why he’s refusing to take it.

“[I’m] hesitant to take the vaccine now [as] there are still many unknowns. Usually, vaccines take 10–15 years of trial before it is fully approved for public use,” Mr Tan says.

“Currently, all the COVID-19 vaccines are experimental, rushed and approved for emergency use. No one knows the negative consequences, injuries and [the] long-term severe adverse reactions down the years,” he adds.

According to an article Mr Tan shared with me, the vaccines are considered to be experimental. Additionally, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved them, and most vaccines take years to undergo testing and approval.

The article also insinuates the possibility of deadly side effects.

“What if we discover some horrifically high incidence of catastrophic side-effects that do not show up for two or five or ten years? Scientists tell us that that is possible.”

Mrs Priscilla Lee, 53 (not her real name and age) also shares the same sentiments.

She says: “The reason I’m not vaccinated is because the vaccine is not approved by the FDA. The Health Promotion Board and Health Sciences Authority have no agreement between each other about the vaccination as well.”

Moreover, Mr Tan still harbours doubts because of the potentially dangerous constituents of the vaccine.

“The vaccines contain graphene oxide, which is toxic and spike protein,” he says.

In a video Mr Tan referenced, an alleged exposé describes the COVID-19 vaccine as a “poisonous death sentence” and that “nobody should subject themselves to the shots” due to its harmful ingredients.

For instance, it claims that the Moderna vaccine contains graphene oxide although it is not listed as one of the ingredients of the vaccine.

Concerns have also been raised about the vaccine due to a report by a professor in Spain which claimed that the vaccine contains graphene oxide.

However, experts and Pfizer themselves claim that the vaccines do not contain any form of the substance.

“Graphene oxide is not used in the manufacture of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine,” said Pfizer’s Senior Associate of Global Media Relations.

“Liquids containing graphene or graphene oxide in any significant amount tend to be dark brown or black. If the shots had ‘even 1 per cent graphene or graphene oxide’ (the claim states it has 99.9%), the liquid would look black or at least, dark,” says Matthew Diasio, an American Chemical Society Congressional Science & Engineering Fellow.

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Pfizer vaccines are transparent. Photo taken from Politico.com.

The efficacy of the vaccine also remains in question as vaccinated individuals can still contract the virus.

“The vaccination has not proven to stop COVID-19 from spreading. People who took the vaccine still get infected and the people who are vaccinated could be spreading the virus too,” says Mrs Lee.

The Youth

Youths who are remotely aware of the rapid development of the vaccine share the same discomfort.

“I feel that the vaccine was very rushed because people are trying desperately to fight the virus. They would want to find the fastest solution so it’s very rushed.

“You cannot guarantee it’s very reliable as 20 years down the road, something might go wrong and we wouldn’t know because they never tested it on someone before,” says Darren Lim, 20 (not his real name and age).

The vaccine’s reliability cannot be compared to vaccinations which they may have taken when they were children.

He says: “The vaccines we… [took] as child[ren], people have been taking them for [so] long… they know that there’ll be no problem.”

Despite this, some individuals are still thankful that vaccination is not mandatory in Singapore. “It’s unfair, but it’s better than making vaccination mandatory by law,” says Mr Tan.

Looking Forward

At the moment, vaccination is the only solution in sight as COVID-19 is turning into a deadly infectious disease.

The government has therefore adamantly pushed for vaccination among the population, even launching a campaign to promote the vaccine’s benefits and reassure Singapore citizens that it is safe.

Due to the government’s efforts, vaccination efforts in Singapore have been largely successful. As of Aug 14, 2021, 8,547,113 vaccine doses have been administered, which roughly equates to 75 per cent of the population being fully vaccinated.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has also addressed concerns the elderly may have about vaccines.

“The vaccines are safe, and they will keep you safe,” said Mr Lee in his address to the nation on May 31, 2021. “The President and I have been vaccinated too and so have all my Cabinet colleagues.”

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Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong getting vaccinated. Photo taken from The Straits Times.

He also reiterated the importance of receiving the vaccine because of a “new normal” that will be imposed by the virus.

“One day, this global pandemic will subside but I do not expect COVID-19 to disappear. It will remain with humankind and become endemic,” Mr Lee elaborated. “In this new normal, we will have to learn to carry on with our lives even with the virus in our midst.”

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