Shereen Khaled, member of QF’s Communications Directorate, shares her point of view on why taking the COVID-19 vaccine is one of the toughest decisions she will ever have to make
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been lots of discussions about the vaccine, and so many views about it, whether between family members and friends, on the news, or through webinars and public discussions – most offering a peek into two opposing opinions. To take the vaccine or not.
It’s understandable, and it’s a human right for us to decide what’s best for us and our families, but this pandemic has made it tricky for parties on both sides of the debate, since everyone's decision about the vaccine holds social liability, and eventually will affect the future of others. And here is where the real dilemma begins.
In one of the recent discussions I was listening to, experts from around the world proposed that people who are against taking the vaccine either have a lack of knowledge on how it works or how it will affect their general health, or have a lack of trust in medical institutions and healthcare systems.
After listening to this discussion, I started searching within myself for the reason behind my spontaneous reaction whenever I came across this crucial topic – which is, trying to avoid getting into a discussion all together, and refusing to take a side.
In the aspect of healthcare and medicine, I have had many observations throughout my life which brought forth so many doubts in my head
People are certainly influenced more by their own experiences and encounters in life, and in the aspect of healthcare and medicine, I have had many observations throughout my life which brought forth so many doubts in my head, making the decision of taking the vaccine a hard one.
In classical Arabic “Fus’ha”, we call a doctor “Al-Hakeem” which literally means “the wise man or woman”. This designation in Arabic goes back to what doctors study – immense knowledge and a deep understanding of how the human body works; and a solid comprehension that illnesses and disease symptoms are more deep-rooted than what appears on the surface. I’ve always believed that doctors are somewhat like scientists, understanding the source of the problem, and looking to provide solutions to tackle that source. Such doctors are not just knowledgeable but are also very wise on an intuitive level.
Educating the patient on the case, or offering advice that goes beyond the symptoms of the illness, is often an additional layer of information that is often ignored
But sadly, in my observations these days, I have noticed that when a patient is complaining of an issue and seeks medical help, in many cases, the common routine would be of the doctor making a quick investigation, and diagnosing an illness, with prescribing medication being the main task. Performing a proper diagnosis to track down the root cause of the illness; educating the patient on the case; or offering advice that goes beyond the symptoms of the illness is often an additional layer of information that is often ignored. It appears that many of the health issues could have been cured differently – through a much healthier approach, without exhausting the body with medications that cure only the symptoms.
In my mind, such experiences with the healthcare system creates an impression that a doctor is another person who is treating people to make a living, and the healthcare industry is like any other sector that is based on profits and losses. And the same applies to the whole industry of vaccines and treatments like chemotherapy that many people believe are used in many cases to make profits. This is where my doubts begin.
No one can deny that there are many healthcare professionals who are true to their profession and their medical vows
On the other hand, no one can deny that there are many healthcare professionals who are true to their profession and their medical vows, risking their own lives to save others, and there couldn’t be better evidence than the situation of the COVID-19 pandemic itself – where we find medical staff and frontliners make miracles happen every day.
With all this in mind, and soon enough, when taking the vaccine will be an inevitable reality, I’ve been trying to learn more about the various COVID-19 vaccines and why it could be a gamechanger in this crisis.
In a situation where I find myself fighting fear with faith, I’m on the cusp of changing my perspective, as there cannot be any other way but to trust in science, and not let my personal convictions or doubts overshadow what’s right.
I’m on the cusp of changing my perspective, as there cannot be any other way but to trust in science
In this unprecedented situation in all our lives, I think we all need to broaden our emotional and mental capacity; seek to find the truth through knowledge; and to confront the situation with a great deal of humility and consciousness for the greater good. Because the truth is – behind all the arguments and debates, we all certainly share the same fate, fears and prayers for this crisis to end.