Updated: Oct 31, 2022
"Vaccine" - From kids to illiterates, everyone is familiar with this word in the current world. Vaccination has become relevant & part of our life after the arrival of COVID-19 in 2019. Though some vaccinated people are being tested positive for corona, still it has become mandatory for our safety. Till now worldwide COVID-19 cases have reached up to 331,844,038 among whom 269,296,660 are recovered and 5,565,816 lost their lives due to the virus. Vaccines like Covaxin by Bharat Biotech, Covishield by Serum, Sputnik by Gamaleya, Moderna by NIAID, Johnson and Johnson by Janssen, etc.. are being used against COVID-19 via various doses. Meanwhile, vaccines, masks, and sanitizers have become best friends to fight together against the virus.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC's VISA CONTROVERSY
World Number 1 Tennis star, 9 - time Australian Open Champion, who won 20 grand slams - Novak Djokovic's visa got cancelled in the first week of January 2022 by border officials in Melbourne, Australia as he is unvaccinated. The Serbian reached Melbourne to compete in the Australia Open to win his 21st grand slam to surpass Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Though Australian PM Scott Morrison gave a sharp warning that "no one is above the law, no special rules for Djokovic and they will give an exemption to a person unless and until he/she qualifies for that", the Australian court granted him medical exemption after 4 days in immigration detention, 9 hours hearing on June 4. He is neither vaccinated nor qualified for a suitable exemption.
Image Credits: The Guardian
HOW DID THE PEOPLE REACT TO THIS?
Though this visa victory is being celebrated and praised by Serbians and his fans, Australians and some other people are not at all comfortable with this as they have faced almost two years of strict border controls during the pandemic. His participation has drawn criticism from even fellow players apart from showing pity on him. Many claimed his visa triumph as a "victory for human rights and free speech" while some stated 'he is being an example to stand for your beliefs.’ Stephen Parnis, a former vice-president of the Australian Medical Association said "it sends an appalling message to millions to those fighting COVID-19's spread".
WHAT HAS THE AUSTRALIAN COURT SAID?
The court has said that Djokovic was not given enough time to discuss the issue with his lawyers and family members. On this name, it has granted him a medical exemption. Though Djokovic left every stone unturned, today immigration minister Alex Hawke rejected his visa under section 133C (3) of the Migration Act, saying it was in the public interest to do so, and also to avoid exciting anti-vaxxers. This is going to bring a huge change in the society supporting vaccination. This is the second time his visa got dismissed. He may also face a 3-year ban if things don't go in his favor. On Sunday (16/01/2022) Chief Justice James Allsop announced that the court unanimously dismissed his application. Djokovic soon leaves Australia.
ANY MORE VACCINE SKEPTICS?
Other vaccine skeptics who commented on being an anti-vax are Brooklyn Net star Kyrie Irving who's a 7-time all-star awardee claimed that 'things happen for a reason', NBA star Jonathan Issac said he is 'proudly unvaccinated, and American golfer Bryson DeChambeau who's also an 8-time PGA tour champion said 'the vaccine doesn't necessarily prevent it from happening'.
Actor Damien Richardson, who is one of the key speakers at Victoria's anti-vaccine protests has slammed his celebrity friend for encouraging people to get vaccinated.
WHAT'S THE REACTION OF COUNTRY LEADERS UPON THIS?
Previously Canada PM Justin Trudeau hit out at anti-vaxxers amid rising Covid-19 cases, on one hand, lawmakers and public health authorities have been continuously appealing to people in the country to get vaccinated and undertaking efforts to run campaigns meant to educate, encourage and refute vaccine myths across the country while France President Emmanuel Macron stated that he wants to piss-off unvaccinated people.
Image Credits: The Guardian
WHAT'S GOING WRONG?
The thing to worry about here is all these sportspersons are promoting anti-vax and indirectly saying not to get vaccinated. Former American president Donald Trump encouraged vaccination while he was in the White House and stood against vaccination both before and after his presidency. The majority of the US population remained reluctant or opposed to receiving the vaccine. The whole world needs a vaccine before dangerous variants as delta and omicron arrive. On the other hand, the rise in vaccine hesitancy due to conspiratorial thinking, reactance, hierarchical world views, etc.. is becoming a thing to panic about.
Image Credits: News Center Maine
HOW CAN WE OVERCOME THIS?
Australia has come up with an incredible initiative by introducing a policy named "No Jab, No Pay" in Sept 2021 which could see thousands get vaccinated against COVID-19 or lose their job. Providing vaccines free of cost to the public is also going to bring great results. These kinds of activities can increase the rate of vaccination.
BY SNEHA VANKUDOTHU