Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by this author are their own and do not represent the official position of the Barbados Today. by Vincent “Boo” Nurse Approximately 10 million vaccines have to date (03-02-21) been given to people in the UK in the …

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by this author are their own and do not represent the official position of the Barbados Today.
by Vincent Boo Nurse
Approximately 10 million vaccines have to date (03-02-21) been given to people in the UK in the fight against COVID-19. Those who have received the jab fall into the category of over 70-year-olds and front line staff of the National Health Service.
This is a remarkable achievement when one looks at the length of time it has taken to reach this point since the vaccine was first administered.
The UK government has promised to keep the momentum in its determination to rid the country of the virus and consequently win back a semblance of normalcy to the everyday lives of the nation.
However, the programme is not a straightforward exercise and has been met with stern objection and resistance by a great number of members of the Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) community.
They have with all manner and means steadfastly dug their heels in the mud and refused to take part in or sanction the use of the vaccine.
Figures taken from a recent survey show that only one in five of BAME who is eligible to receive the vaccinehas done so.
The anti-vaccine stance taken by the BAME has created some disquiet and apprehension in the corridors of the authorities and is seen as a measure that could hinder the overall national effort to defeat COVID-19.
The situation is such that in an act that transcends party political lines, the Conservative Minister responsible for the operation of the vaccine programme Nadhim Zahani, and the Labour Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, have joined in a national appeal to the BAME community suggesting that they (BAME) should take the vaccine.
The reluctance by BAME to take the vaccine is perplexing. It appears to be founded on a number of assumptions that, to this naked eye, seem inexplicable. However, given the history of experiences suffered by Black people across the globe with unproven medicines which had devastating and detrimental effect, it is quite reasonable to understand that fear of the unknown and a general distrust of the political hegemony will inform their decisions to refuse the vaccine.
The genie of social media has escaped from the bottle and provided the platform for the espousal of theories on the vaccine that are mostly unfounded and border on fantasy.
The debate in the UK among the BAME community is perhaps no different from that across the globe. The discussions have split families and friends and views are entrenched. It seems not to matter to those who promote abstention that the vaccine has been accepted as being safe by independent bodies and that the efficacy levels are at 90 per cent and above.
But are the anti-vaxxers flying in the face of reality? Have they taken a Canute-like position? Or are they championing and promoting action or non-action that could lead BAME into the abyss? This is a debate that is being ignored as theories are pedalled to support non-participation without giving a reasonable and constructive alternative of what should be done to combat this disease.
The stark reality we face today in the UK is before us. BAME are twice as likely to die from this virus as their White neighbours, and yet, we continue to use the events of hundreds of years ago as the basis to justify our actions today.
During the early days of the pandemic disturbing figures came to light: a largely disproportionate number of deaths of frontline workers was listed against BAME. Food indeed for deep thought. Now let us be frank.
Whatever the experiments and atrocities that were inflicted on our people, these actions should not now be solely used to inform and advise on the merits of modern-day medicine and science.
The debate on the wrongs and atrocities of yesterday will always be held but is this the appropriate time or forum? Those actions are unforgivable and indeed never to be forgotten and are a matter of record with the historians.
I do not seek to diminish the effect those barbarous acts have had on the state of mind of our people throughout the years, but we are now dealing with medicine and science that affect both Black and White people in this pandemic.
Recently, I had opportunity to take the vaccine and I am yet to grow a third foot. People of all creeds and colours lined up to receive the vaccine and there was no discriminatory action regarding which vaccine was given to Black people and which one was given to White people. We were all served from the same chalice. If there is a conspiracy, as many seem to think, to destabilise and harm Black people by means of the vaccine I fear the authorities have badly miscalculated.
Finally, I seek to know the motive of the anti-vaxxers. Perhaps there isnt one. Put simply, it could be good old-fashioned fear of the unknown that has led to the general act of refusal to take the vaccine.
Vincent Boo Nurse is a Barbadian living in London who is a retired land Revenue Manager, Pensions and Investment Adviser. He is passionate about the development of his island home and disapora.
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