Vaccine Hesitancy is Complicated

The opinions expressed in this article are that of the author and are not representative of the views of The Hysteria Collective as a whole.

Anti-vaxxers have been the attention of many over the past year or so. From influencers online giving out questionable and oftentimes dangerous advice, to mums on local Facebook pages denouncing the vaccine for their children, vaccinated people (including me) have been made to feel angry and upset at the selfishness of many. However, I think I have been too harsh on some.

Sure, people like Joe Rogan with a massive following dishing out advice that scientists entirely disagree with is dangerous and we should continue to disapprove of it. But when it comes to local people who have been following odd news stories found in the deep depths of the internet or some random WhatsApp group chat chain message, we should have more sympathy.

Firstly, misinformation is a huge problem in our day and age. Over the past 18 months I have seen more misleading articles, radio shows and general online posts than I ever have in my life. Perhaps that’s something that has come with being online more than ever, but there is a disgusting amount. And if individuals only use social media and don’t watch or have access to mainstream news (which is likely more and more common every single day), it is easier to believe misinformation.

Misinformation also lends itself nicely to a lack of education at school and in the home for an anti-vaxxer. For many anti-vaxxers, a detached relationship with the current education system and the accessibility of false information mean it’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole.

Thirdly, a distrust of governmental powers is perhaps another reason why those who refuse the vaccine are so stuck in their ways. After the catastrophes of the Tory government in the past 11 years (but especially in the past 18 months), there are plenty of people who do not trust those in power – and when they’ve been the face of the vaccine roll-out, it can be pretty overwhelming.

So, yes, it is dangerous for people to refuse the vaccine. Numerous covid strains would be easier to be eradicated if everyone accepted the vaccine and continued staying apart for a bit longer. But instead of lashing out in anger, try to educate. Find credible sources, appeal to their moral sensibilities and try and put yourself in their shoes. Someone who has been lucky enough to have never experienced covid grief in the past 18 months and who only reads certain sites may not have known the pain of others.

Image courtesy of Daniel Schludi.

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