Misinformation driving vaccine hesitancy, medical professionals say
- by Barbados Today
July 25, 2021
July 25, 2021
Misinformation and misconstrued facts have played a major role in vaccine hesitancy in Barbados, even as the island grapples with a resurgence in COVID-19 numbers over the past few weeks.
Several medical professionals expressed this view during Sunday’s edition of Down to Brass Tacks on Voice of Barbados.
First Vice President of the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners (BAMP), Dr Adanna Grandison, said she was concerned with the abundance of medical misinformation in the public domain, saying many vocal critics of COVID-19 vaccines have been using unsupported medical reports to cement their stance against the vaccines.
These positions, according to Grandison, are dangerous ones to take.
“The scientific community, not just with vaccines, with everything, will always have persons on both sides, but within the scientific community … no matter how you may feel personally, you must have the scientific evidence to back up what you may think.
“If you have that information before you, scientifically speaking, then certainly it is no longer just a matter of saying ‘I feel’ but I now also have the prerequisite evidence to back me up.”
Grandison said those who say not enough tests were done have not fully understood the testing criteria for vaccines.
She said testing and monitoring of vaccines and other drugs is a continuous process and does not stop once the drug becomes publicly available.
“There is post-marketing surveillance, this is not just done with vaccines, and this is done with any drug brought onto the market where we continue to monitor that drug, that vaccine, to see the effect is has on our population, and at any time we can pull that drug or that vaccine if we deem, based again on evidence, that it is harmful to our population, or a subsection of our population,” she said.
“It is very dangerous to go based upon gut feeling in a scientific space because everyone has theories and form hypotheses on what we think may be driving something.”
In response to some Barbadians citing the low mortality rate associated with COVID-19, and their belief that the virus is not a serious one because it’s not as deadly as previous pandemics throughout human history, Lecturer in Microbiology at The University of the West Indies (The UWI) Dr. Marquita Gittens-St.Hilaire, insisted that morbidity levels associated with the virus is the real concern for health officials.
“The main risk for us with COVID-19 is not only death, the main risk is morbidity, short term and long term. Morbidity just means illness and that is the main risk,” Gittens-St.Hilaire said.
“So they may now die of something that could have been prevented, had there not been a run on resources from the illness of COVID-19. That is why we are saying we have to use every tool that we have in order to fight against it.” (SB)
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