By Raffique Shah
December 20, 2021
I do not believe there is a common factor that unites people of any particular pigmentation or persuasion across the world, except, perhaps, religious doctrines that are deemed to be the “words of God”, written or revealed by the Almighty Himself, hence not subject to alterations by man.
Those of us who have studied history know only too well that in the name of religion, of spreading the word of God, atrocities were committed, entire civilisations were wiped off the map, and the anointed soldiers of God just moved on to other souls to be saved by swiping heads off bodies, then raiding their treasures.
The Lord’s soldiers in medieval times were dumb, no different to today’s anti-vaxxers who are incapable of articulating their positions, defending the indefensible, so they simply try to look defiant, as if that would absolve them from the utter chaos their refusal to be vaccinated has plunged the world into.
Over the past two weeks, we have watched with horror as the Covid-19 virus, taunting man, confusing our best scientists by mutating magically into complex strains that multiply exponentially, causing the infection rates in developed countries that thought they had seen light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, to suddenly overwhelm their health systems.
And what better time to hit us between the eyes than Christmas, which is the season children under 12, the most vulnerable, look forward to most, when even those who have little or nothing, feel a joy that cannot be explained. And this Omicron edition of Covid-19 seems to hold all the elements that target the innocents who have limited vaccination options.
One such option is the attainment of “herd immunity”, whereby at least 70 per cent of the population eligible for vaccines are vaccinated, which, when combined with adherence to the long-installed World Health Organisation’s hygiene protocols, makes it difficult for the virus to get to the unvaccinated. Alas, this goal depends on the willingness of those who continue to ignore the pleas of the majority of our people in T&T, and elsewhere in the world, to get vaccinated.
In this deadly encounter between man and virus, a kind of “Showdown at Sunset” in which we adults must form a firewall around the innocents, I want to see if the significant minority of the population, those who decline to vaccinate, will hold on to their irrational positions, or if they will be moved by the milk of human kindness that is supposed to exist in every human being, thus sparing the children a fate worse than death. Man’s innate compassion for Mankind, an inexplicable bond that instinctively leads us to protect our children even at the cost of losing our own lives, is what separates man from… what? Scrap iron and old batteries? Because even beasts that operate by instinct, not reason, defend their babies and children.
This is showdown time. Look, I should use this space to make a plea for the elderly who have suffered most during this unprecedented pandemic. The overwhelming majority of persons who have died from Covid-related complications, certainly upward of 75 per cent, were over the age of 60. Some will have been victims of carelessness in their homes and they, as well as their families exposing themselves to infection unnecessarily.
What we know is that close to 90 per cent of deaths by Covid after this country started its vaccination programme, were among the unvaccinated. This fact, not fiction, makes the case for vaccination pellucidly clear. The vaccinated may and do get infected by the virus, but fewer of them fall seriously ill or die from it.
The innocents among us who still believe in Santa Claus and define their years on Earth by how many Christmases they have enjoyed are my focus today. We can spare them the horror of being infected with this most virulent virus in a century. We can save them from having to be hospitalised, separated from their families and fighting for oxygen. Most of all, we can save thousands of young lives, girls and boys who may one day soon become the saviours of our lives. They can be the teachers, the nurses, the doctors, the tradesmen of the future.
But we can only achieve such a goal if those—I still want to say fellow Trinbagonians—come to their senses and get vaccinated. They hold the key to the lives of tens of thousands of children. They need to be vaccinated like yesterday. The vaccines are there, use them. The staff, tired though they may be, are ready to extend themselves to prevent a total disaster. You, my non-vaccinated countrymen, hold the lives of these children in the palms of your hand. Well… shoulder. You do what you need to do as patriotic citizens ought to.
Do it and we shall forget the lives already lost due to your delinquency. God will forgive you. And who knows, maybe I too will.