| Academia Nomad
PORT MORESBY - This photo from The National newspaper confirms what I saw last Monday at the Rita Flynn vaccination centre - that foreigners dominated the place where vaccines are administered.
The sad thing is I wasn’t surprised when I saw many foreigners lining up for the vaccines– vaccines that were sent for Papua New Guineans.
A vicious misinformation campaign has dominated WhatsApp and Facebook groups in PNG since the vaccines were announced.
I’ve witnessed an unprecedented level of PNG conspiracy theories against vaccines and an unprecedented number of people sharing content that discredits vaccines. They include a large number of educated professionals who are critical of vaccines.
ABC International Development and the Pacific Media Assistance Scheme reported that 62% of Facebook posts about Covid-19 vaccines in the Pacific region make unsubstantiated claims about them.
Popular falsehoods include that vaccines have been manufactured to track personal data, they are counter to the foundations of the Christian faith, and they impact fertility. These are circulating widely across the region.
PNG is a country of about nine million people, so the 132,000 AstraZeneca doses donated to PNG through COVAX will hardly put a dent in the response to Covid-19 in PNG.
Every dose should be going to Papua New Guineans who, unlike foreigners in PNG, have limited access to quality health facilities. Government facilities are mostly run down and struggling to keep up with demand.
When the vaccines arrived, preference was given to the frontline workers, starting with health workers. Later, vaccines were offered to the public.
I was part of the staff at the University of PNG who were asked to get vaccinated. It was voluntary. Less than half the staff went to Rita Flynn where the vaccines are administered.
I’m not sure whether it was vaccine hesitancy or the email advice (toksave) being sent out late which resulted in low turnout. Perhaps both.
At Rita Flynn, I saw Europeans, Indians, Asians and Papua New Guineans. I didn’t keep a tally, but in the two or three hours I was there, I saw many foreigners lining up. At one time, the chairs before me were dominated by foreigners.
It’s a concern that few Papua New Guineans showed up for the vaccines. It’s open to the public, now the front liners have been vaccinated, but it’s sad to see many Papua New Guineans hesitating.
Vaccines are scarce, especially in PNG. And the little we have seems to be benefiting the foreigners because Papua New Guineans are reading and watching too much conspiracy content.
Since we are trying to make PNG a Christian country, let me quote a scripture from the Bible, Hosea 4:6: “My people perish because of a lack of knowledge…”
If people die in PNG from Covid-19, the reasons will be twofold: first, a break down in health system; second, a lack of correct information or rejection of science.
Our front liners, prime minister, ministers, departmental heads, teachers and lecturers have been vaccinated. So if vaccines do kill people, PNG should be in disaster mode.
By now you should have lost most, if not all, of your medical doctors and nurses, your prime minister and politicians, departmental heads and teachers.
I got vaccinated and, out of curiosity, placed a coin on my arm at the spot where I was injected. But the coin fell off my arm.
A friend of mine explained that coins get stuck on smooth surfaces, so on the upper arm, where there’s less hair, coins will get stuck especially if they are sweaty in the Port Moresby heat.
But the coin fell off my arm where I was injected. Here's the video.
After vaccination, I felt pains on the second day. The nurses explained that that would be the case.
I was advised to drink Panadol and get some rest so that’s what I did. It’s the third day and I’m feeling good.
So my people, go get vaccinated.