The vaccine priority list | Daily News

The vaccine priority list

Nineteen MPs have received the COVID-19 vaccine, while three MPs from the Opposition plus a Government Minister refrained from receiving the jab. Those who opted out claimed they could not avail themselves of the vaccine on a privileged basis when there was a priority list that is yet to be exhausted. The foursome who came on television to offer their reasons for foregoing the vaccine strove to make out that their decision was driven by altruistic motives viz. the public who were in the vulnerable category should receive first preference. Others who received the vaccine claimed that, as politicians, they had to move closely with the people and hence fell into the vulnerable category and therefore eliminating the risk was justified.

Both categories were only attempting to dupe the public. Few would buy into the claim by those MPs who received the vaccine that they were moving closely with the people. The common complaint is that MPs, after getting elected, hardly ever sight the electorate after entering Parliament, neglecting those who voted for them as well as letting their electorates run to seed. Angry villagers are seen raving and ranting at their representatives for abandoning them, with some even threatening these worthies not come to them begging for their votes again. In any event free circulation with the people in the electorates is not an option today with a pandemic raging.

What about those who claimed they opted out in order to give first preference to the people? Was this because their hearts were truly bleeding for the people? Has any one of them contributed even a fraction of their salaries and considerable allowances received as MPs towards alleviating the distress of the victims of the pandemic? Did the Opposition MP who claimed that it was wrong to get the vaccine free of charge ever harbour such a guilty feeling when he and his ilk were in fact doing just that enjoying luxury meals subsidized by the very people his heart was bleeding for or cashing in on the duty free vehicles at public expense ?

Did the MP concerned spare a thought for the people who will be paying for his pension after ‘serving’ only five years as an MP while a poor public servant has to work for 25 years to be entitled for a pension? What about the public money being squandered by chronic absenteeism of MPs from the House? Was only receiving a vaccine free of charge pricking the conscience of our MPs?

Besides, are our erstwhile people’s representatives really worthy of being placed on the priority list for the vaccine after demonstrating a blatant disregard for the prevailing restrictions and health guidelines? It was only the other day that, when the Coronavirus was wreaking havoc, we had a senior MP celebrating his birthday party in Parliament with a host of guests in attendance, and feeding around the first cut of the birthday cake to the invitees. This when one would have thought that Parliamentarians would lead the way by example in following the health guidelines. There was also an MP taking part in a protest march mingling among thousands of protestors. One should also not forget that there were also close to a dozen MPs who were detected with the virus and placed under quarantine. Politicians of all hues also violated all restrictions during last year’s General Election campaign mixing with crowds indiscriminately. Two months later the country was swept by the second wave of the pandemic. If at all, MPs ought to have been placed last in line in the eligible list for the vaccine.

Meanwhile, it is now reported that there had been a revision in the priority list for the COVID-19 vaccine in favour of according preference to those in the 30 to 60 age category whereas, earlier, priority was given to the over 60 group considering them to be more susceptible to contracting the virus. This is a wise move on account of the fact we need to protect our workforce (who are in the 30-60 age group) to keep the economy ticking. Not to be uncharitable, the over 60s are normally considered as a spent force with their productive years behind them and rationale is to protect those whose lives are before them and what is more able to contribute to the economy. Hopefully, the vaccine programme that is now in full swing would bring in the desired results where the pandemic would soon be a passing nightmare.

Care though should be taken against lowering the guard as advised by health experts even if signs are evident that the pandemic is on the wane. New Zealand which thought that it had almost eliminated the virus is once again on the red list with the emergence of a raft of cases. This, in a country which had all the precautionary measures in place well in advance only to now go into emergency mode perhaps supporting the World Health Organisation (WHO) forecast that the pandemic’s longevity may extend to three years.