It’s been an emotional week. An 81-year-old man named William Shakespeare from Warwickshire became the second person in the world to receive a Covid-19 vaccine outside of a trial.
A nice lady named Margaret was the first, but the lack of pun potential (“Is that a needle I see in front of me?” Or my personal favorite, “The Taming of the Flu”) meant she didn’t get that much airtime.
Then Matt Hancock cried (reportedly I’m not entirely convinced, despite checking the footage). And two NHS employees were allergic to the bite – with no serious consequences – and prompted regulators to reiterate the standard advice that the vaccine should not be given to anyone who had a history of serious allergies to the ingredients.
Margaret Keenan, 90, was the first person in the UK to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at University Hospital Coventry in England
She was followed by William Shakespeare, pictured. The 81-year-old receives his dose from sister May Parsons
Now thousands of Britons have had their first shot. In mid-January, seven days after a booster jab, large numbers of the most vulnerable people, as well as health care workers, will be immune to Covid-19.
As a colleague of mine said, this is absolutely the best news ever. And I couldn’t agree more.
But not for my new friend Maria. She has absolutely no intention of getting vaccinated anytime soon. And neither the Prime Minister, nor the Queen, nor anyone who’s down on TV or anywhere else is going to change their minds.
The 68-year-old grandmother from Sussex, who agreed to only let me write about our conversations if I promised her anonymity, firmly believes: “I won’t have it.” I am not made to. “
Maria started texting me about six weeks ago and almost every day she sends me links to articles she has read or YouTube clips. Many of them contain alarming content. They could look similar: the Covid vaccine could cause terrible, unforeseen side effects, damage our DNA, and ultimately be forced upon us.
The retired teacher tells me, “I’m not an old hysterical woman who believes everything I read.”
And after talking to her, I agree – in fact, we have had a number of pleasant conversations over the past week. Maria had the polio vaccine in the 1950s and says her children had the normal vaccinations. However, she felt compelled to contact this newspaper to warn others that “Covid vaccinations will have an unremarkable impact on future generations”.
While we were the first to hold ministers accountable for making decisions made during the pandemic, I feel the opposite for Maria on this matter – and I told her. Personally, I’m less of a pro-vax than a vaccine fanatic.
Some Britons are unsure of the vaccine’s safety, claiming they will not take it even if they witness PM Boris Johnson (left) receive a dose live on TV
I had almost every bump. Why be sick when you don’t have to be, I say.
The first vaccine against smallpox was invented in 1796. So it’s a pretty proven way of protecting us.
I would even say that vaccines are one of the real wonders of modern times. I’ll have the Covid as soon as I have a chance.
Maria is not convinced what worries me. Because of her age, she is one of the risk groups for the virus. More than 60 percent of those hospitalized with Covid in the 1970s die. Hopefully the vaccine will end this. In fact, this first phase of the program should eliminate 99 percent of Covid deaths, experts say.
But that depends on enough people actually having it – and around 80 to 90 percent of the population will need immunity before the government stops viewing the virus as a threat.
Maria acknowledges this, but has concluded that the risks of vaccination outweigh the potential benefits – despite the fact that no serious side effects were noted in the tens of thousands who had the sting.
And she is not alone. According to the most comprehensive study to date on the subject, published on Friday, almost three quarters of adults are either eager or ready to get the sting, around 28 percent are either “unsure” or “very hesitant”.
Oxford University’s survey of more than 5,000 people also found that one in five believes the virus is, in fact, a US-made biological weapon.
Thousands of British had their first shot. In mid-January, seven days after a booster jab, large numbers of the most vulnerable people, as well as health care workers, will be immune to Covid-19
Maria has a more understandable concern. “I’m old enough to remember thalidomide,” she explains, referring to the medical scandal in the 1960s in which pregnant women prescribed a drug for morning sickness that led to horrific birth defects and death. More than 10,000 babies worldwide were affected.
It was a disaster. And Maria fears that this could also happen with the Covid vaccine.
Although she otherwise sticks to the “rules”, she is deeply concerned that at some point she will be forced to give up: “The main thing is that people are allowed to make their own decisions. We live in a democracy, or at least we should. ”Of course no one is going to get Maria or anyone else to get the vaccine.
But I like her. And I wonder, could I change her mind? Should I try what should people do if someone in their life is not ready to take the Covid bump?
According to the anthropologist and advisor to the World Health Organization Dr. For Jennifer Cole at Royal Hollyway University, it’s important to listen, not dismiss.
“People who don’t want to vaccinate have often thought about it a lot and have many complex reasons,” she says. “Just saying that vaccines are safe doesn’t work.”
Dr. Cole, an expert on misinformation on social media, suggests discussing the facts on specific concerns. For example, it is unlikely that “another thalidomide” will occur, as the regulatory processes for drugs are currently very different (and pregnant women are excluded from the Covid vaccine anyway).
Pictured health editor Barney Calman has spoken to a vaccine skeptic who said she won’t get a bump even if the queen rolls up her sleeve on live TV