If your favourite celeb takes the Covid jab, will you too?

While governments are tackling the logistical challenges of distributing the vaccine, it is up to citizens to make the decision.


Ambica Sachin

Published: Thu 24 Dec 2020, 11:33 AM

Last updated: Thu 24 Dec 2020, 11:34 AM

“Should we get vaccinated since it’s now freely available in Dubai?” I quizzed my partner the other morning. Having spent a sleepless night glaring into his laptop, he was quick to dismiss my query, remarking he’d prefer to wait and watch instead. Not even my dramatic narration of the long line of cars at the Dubai Parks and Resorts field hospital where the Covid vaccine was being administered, or accounts of my colleagues having undergone the procedure could budge him. Then yesterday he messages me excitedly in the middle of work, “Did you know even Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has got it?” Hmmm, takes a woman politician to get my husband interested, I mutter to myself as I get back to work.

But wait, if someone half way across the world could shake his vaccine hesitancy, imagine the impact of celebrities going public about their Covid-19 vaccine on the average citizen sitting on the fence?

With the market flooded with vaccines, from Pfizer, Moderna and the Chinese ones, there is finally hope that humanity will walk out victorious from their sanitised bubbles in the fight against this pandemic. But should we, shouldn’t we, is a debate that’s currently raging in living rooms and across digital channels.

Conspiracy theories about the origin and the very existence of coronavirus have been doing the rounds for a while now; the anti-maskers have now joined forces with the vaccine doubters who claim many of the celebrities who have been pictured taking the jab, are in fact getting placebos. One can’t silence a badge-carrying sceptic, can one?

Way back in 1956, the king of Rock ’n Roll, Elvis Presley was persuaded to take the Salk polio vaccine on national television in a bid to get more people to endorse it.

On December 17, 81-year old Lord of the Rings star Sir Ian McKellen was among the first batch of people to be vaccinated in the UK along with health care workers. The theatre veteran did not hesitate to recommend it to his followers, stating, “… if you’re virus-free that helps everybody else, doesn’t it?”

In one fell swoop all those who have grown up watching his plays and movies including the X-Men series have been convinced that if their beloved actor could risk it, so could they.

US President-elect Joe Biden is the latest to receive his first dose of Covid-19 vaccine on live television saying “there’s nothing to worry about.”

Former teen pop icon Marty Wilde explained his decision to get the vaccine was propelled by pure “common sense.” You can’t beat that for straight talk, now, can you?

In a year that has seen celebrities like Tom Hanks, Donald Trump, Andrea Bocelli, Amitabh Bachchan, Robert Pattinson, Usain Bolt, Novak Djokovic, and Prince Charles, falling prey to Covid-19, and over 1.72 million deaths and counting even as we read this, there is no doubt the vaccine is the elixir we’ve all been waiting for.

Closer home we have His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and other top UAE officials opting to take the experimental Covid-19 vaccine.

A fortune has been spent on research and creating the vaccine, and now is the moment of truth, when it is being rolled out across the world and the average citizen’s willingness to get the jab is of utmost significance.

While governments are tackling the new Covid strain as well as the logistical challenges of distributing the vaccine — Pfizer requires the expensive cold-chain network to keep its vaccines viable — it is up to citizens to make the decision, and celebrities play a huge role in influencing the mindset of the average man on the street.

One just needs to remember the ‘Angelina Jolie effect’ in 2013, when the number of women who voluntary went for checkups rose drastically after the actress went public about her double mastectomy in a New York Times op-ed.

The need of the hour is an extra dose of community confidence and perhaps even a herd mentality.

If sales of Dior’s Sauvage could shoot up post Johnny Depp’s indictment in the domestic violence case, imagine how much more could be achieved if the Pirates of the Caribbean star opts for a Covid vaccine? —ambica@khaleejtimes.com

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