Let’s vaccinate as many people as possible, we can worry about the anti-vaxxers later

Does the Covid-19 vaccine work if you don’t take a selfie afterwards and post it on Instagram or Facebook? It’s the pandemic version of asking if a tree falling in a forest makes a sound if you aren’t there to hear it. 

This time the answer doesn’t matter because vaccines work whatever you do. Some work better than others, but they all stop their recipients from dying – which as far too many South Africans are increasingly realising is a very real risk if you contract COVID.

The only apparent downside of getting vaccinated is the unbearable smugness of the recipients – as of now the over 50s, 60s as well as, teachers, police and soldiers – to brag about it on social media or work it into every (appropriately socially distanced) conversation.

But why shouldn’t they?

For once the silvers surfers’ cultural appropriation of the narcissism of the millennials is not just acceptable but actually mandatory because, unbelievably, there are people who aren’t perhaps dyed in the wool anti-vaxxers, but most certainly increasingly vaccine hesitant. 10 000 of them are teachers in Gauteng alone, but a sizeable number are people who have medical aids, private means and potentially fatal comorbidities – in this case a firm belief in fake science and even faker news.

There’s more risk in developing blood clots sitting on your arse eating a boerewors roll and drinking a beer as you watch the rugby than there is in getting vaccinated. There are far more harmful chemicals in a well-known fast food hamburger than the vaccine. There’s far more harm in quaffing Ivermectin, which is used by farmers to rid cattle of parasites like tape worms, but none of this matters to the new believers even though they would have had all their jabs as kids, especially smallpox which now no longer exists.

It’s not just South Africans who are worried. Someone responded to a Zimbabwean government tweet announcing the arrival of a vaccine shipment in the country, saying he’d had two injections but still got COVID 19. “You can still tweet, so they work perfectly,” replied @NyashaNyatondo. 

The downside is that the Bill Gates implant as promised by the tinfoil hat brigade hasn’t materialised, not even hands-free connectivity. At this stage given the state of toxic (and often inter-related fragile) masculinity, perhaps the only hope of getting the doubters to bare their left arms will be to foghorn the latest health warnings that long COVID could lead to very short sex lives for men, since Pfizer are the same people who brought you Viagra. If they can raise the dead, then they probably know a thing or two about saving the living. 

Those who see the vaccine as possible changing their DNA and perhaps harming their intelligence should maybe see getting the jab as an opportunity, rather than a threat. In the meantime, the government should let everyone who wants to get vaccinated do so. 

We can worry about the anti-vaxxers and vaccine hesitant later – if they haven’t already been intubated in medically induced comas or zipped into body bags.

Originally published by Saturday Star on 10 July 2021.