Jab, Fiji’s only hope

Members of the public waiting to get vaccinated with the COVID-19 Astrazeneca vaccine behind the Raiwaqa market. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA

Bula readers! I’m impressed with many of our prominent individuals and groups  who are winning the hearts of the citizens as the vaccination rates for the nation increase.

Once again, the program could have been executed so much more quickly if only our national leaders had joined hands and shared  their platform with leaders from different spectrums of society  to promote this lifesaving campaign.

Regardless, it is pleasing to see that right across social media, friends and also friends of friends are persuading others through  their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts to gently encourage people to get the vaccination  done. Even on my personal Facebook  page, I have posted a “Got Vaccinated” message and have had  so many conversations with individuals and groups who have  messaged me asking about the vaccine.

I have in turn encouraged them  and also given them trusted medical sites to visit to get the best  information possible. I am glad to say they have all thought long  and hard, and from being undecided have now had the vaccination done.

This is most encouraging and proves regardless of who you are, we all have a duty to push ahead  with this vaccination health pro- gram.

Yes, it could have been handled better by our leaders. Yes, they could have been more sympathetic and compassionate, and yes  people are very angry about how this whole pandemic has been handled. But let’s take control and take advise from the people we trust and love, plus have those conversations if you are undecided about vaccination.

In addition to this, we must also remember at all times to fully respect the wishes of those who do not want to be vaccinated for one reason or another, or even medically cannot be vaccinated, though this group now are in the minority. I am not in favor of harassing certain individuals or groups if  they are opposed to the vaccination, but I am interested in winning the hearts of the undecided,  and they will ultimately get us over that magic figure of 80 per cent of the adult population to be fully vaccinated.

Make no mistake, we are in a serious crisis with thousands of people infected with the virus and now deaths beginning to go into the hundreds.  Rest assured we will eventually get through this, but unfortunately with very poor decisions  made it will be much later and at a far heavier price than we would like.

Over the last few weeks I have  lost six friends and one fam- ily member to the pandemic and  with little closure, plus grappling with my thoughts on whether all this was really necessary if we had taken a different route.

My heart breaks when I drive past the CWM mortuary and see a tiny gathering of relatives in tears and trying to come to terms with what has happened plus not being able to have time to truly grieve.  It breaks my heart when families and children go without food and are getting more desperate each day.

It deeply saddens me when our leaders come on national TV and  show no empathy or even compassion or comforting words for  the sick and deceased. Regardless, we must all be brave now as that is all we can be during this time, helping each other and seeking comfort in kind words and good deeds.

Remember to keep the word “hope” alive as we will be in this situation for some time to come. The suggestion of a nationwide lockdown when infected case numbers were manageable was refused, and now there is only one route left to save lives and that is to get as many adults vaccinated  as soon as possible, in the shortest time period available.  Sadly, the Fiji we once knew is  long gone.

We now have the highest rate of poverty in Fiji’s history, we have interrupted access to  even basic amenities like water and electricity.

We have the highest rate of debt in Fiji’s history, we have the highest rate of unemployment in Fiji’s history.

Our schools and health facilities are in disrepair and tatters, our roads and infrastructure are crumbling.

We have the highest rate of CO- VID-19 infections in the world per  million.

Fiji is on the verge of be- coming failed state..  These are a few indicators of where we are today and the future will indeed be challenging. We can rebuild and we must rebuild with new ideas and new thinking, but in the meantime, God have mercy on us.

AJAY BHAI AMRIT is a freelance writer. The views expressed in this article are his and does not necessarily reflect the views of this newspaper.

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