I found out last week that ignorance is very rife in those who are refusing to be vaccinated. You may not blame them because they do not know how to separate the facts from the myths.
What they hear is what they believe and leaving them to live in ignorance is costing us dearly with needless infections of the virus.
And what have we done to change the mindsets? Very little, hence the push back to get unvaccinated in our communities and workplaces vaccinated.
The saying, “if you think education is expensive, try ignorance”, played back to me when I engaged two artisans to do some work for me at home last week.
Once in the house, they had to go through the full COVID-19 protocols of washing hands with soap under running water and wearing face masks. Fortunately, they did all that willingly and without fuss.
Having assumed that they had been vaccinated and understood all the implications, I asked if their wives and adult children had been vaccinated now that vaccines are said to be freely available. To my shock, they both had not been vaccinated, more so their eligible family members.
Myths and falsehoods
The conversation that followed as to why they were not vaccinated surprised me because I didn’t expect the level of myths and falsehoods making the rounds as far as COVID-19 vaccines were concerned.
I wondered a bit if the Ghana Health Service (GHS) had taken pains to understand the level of myths in the communities and which was keeping people away from getting vaccinated.
My conclusion, after my chat with the two gentlemen, confirmed that the education on the benefits of COVID-19 vaccinations did not seem to have gone far and deep.
One of the artisans told me he did not have that extra money to spend on vaccination. He said he had been told one had to pay to be vaccinated.
Palpable falsehood, I told him, and even suggested that he should go and search for a vaccination centre and if they asked him to pay, I would give him the money for payment.
He did not stop there. He asked me about the swelling in the arm after vaccination and whether people were given medication for that. What swelling, I asked him. So, there again is another falsehood which is making the rounds and keeping people away from vaccination centres.
The other gentleman confirmed the falsehood about payment and also repeated that he did not have the money to pay. I was not surprised because having heard me promising to pay for the other one; he wanted the same assurance, assuming one was required to pay for a COVID-19 vaccine.
He even added that he heard for men, one became impotent when one took the vaccine and that several young men he knew had stayed away.
So is there any wonder why the doses are packed and unpacked day after day and the GHS is telling us that people are not coming forward to be vaccinated?
Yes, because there seems to be real myths around the vaccination which seem not to have been cured.
Education on the benefits of being vaccinated against the virus seems to be scanty, towered by misconceptions.
By the time the two left my house, I had become an expert on COVID-19 vaccination. I lectured them both on the advantages they and eligible members of their families stood to gain.
They were both ready to take the vaccines the following day. But which health centres were opened for vaccination? That was difficult to tell.
I figured out, by the time they left, why a section of the population was refusing to get vaccinated. There exist genuine concerns that have not yet been addressed, whether true or false.
For some people, they are genuinely ignorant about the values of a vaccine for themselves and their families. The education has not been forthcoming or if it has, it has not been convincing enough.
Sadly, if it was time to go to the polls, the airwaves would have been choked. The messages on how to vote and where to go and cast one’s vote would have been all over the place.
So why should information needed for the good of public health be lost and ignorance take over?
The GHS has worked assiduously over the last couple of years on this pandemic to bring the country where it is now. Our case count is one of the best on the continent.
Let us sustain the needed education to get all on board for vaccination. No one should be left behind due to ignorance.