Ukraine’s health minister admitted that 95% of Ukrainians who were hospitalized with Covid-19 are unvaccinated. Meanwhile, the government still has no clear idea about how many of vaccinated people in the country opted to buy a fake Covid certificate – the problem is so rampant that it got covered by The New York Times.
Olha Kalinina who works in an Khrstyniska hospital argues that these days more people are coming to get a Covid vaccine ‘due to new governmental directives and control from police and state offices’, adding that many of those make scenes and will go ‘we don’t want, we will not, we are sick [and need exemption]’.
Psychologist Ani Leonila Ioseliani says accessibility to various, often conflicting, sources of information can be part of the problem.
‘We are living in the world where your mobile phone plants you in a controlled information bubble. We scroll our news feed with Google and we get personalized information set to grab and hold our attention. You start to consume the information you have looked for, and our [software] tools of getting information will follow the lead’.
And then they require you to put on a mask in streets, which you have never done before, and they fail to provide reasons behind it. Later, they turn to scare tactics- then sanitary chief Viktor Lyashko admits it- and outlaw walks in parks. The approach gets the health official the ministerial portfolio.
A year into the pandemic, you keep get the conflicting messaging – state officials urge you to wear masks and then you see them in public flaunting the mask rule they preached. There were other stories – MPs throwing parties with no masks in sight, or scandal of misuse of Covid program funding.
At some point, the government turns to social media influencers and public personalities, and event recruits the Ukrainian president, to help stumbling vaccination campaing. Yet credibility and trust those influencers enjoy fails to offset great distrust to governmental vaccination policies.
It can be another factor that makes people shrug off Covid statistics data and turn to social media posts telling stories of Covid-related deaths.
‘People are driven by fear. And this feeling makes a social media story about the death of a boy in Cherkasy more relatable for us while official Covid-19 information about 20 thousand people contracting the infection on Friday. Personal stories move you way better than impersonal reports,’ argues Ioseliani, adding that the situation is exacerbated by information bubbles, we are confined to, where our news feeds and social media friends make us dismiss credible media stories and pit against people who think differently.
Can we blame people for their fears after they have lived almost two years in the panic-stricken situation? Probably not. Still it can serve as an excuse for complacency that is a common reason behind new Covid-related hospitalizations and deaths.
If government Covid policies fail to hit home, you must step in for it talking to your dear people and friends explaining that fear is part of the Covid problem and it is in our self-interest to it has to be brushed aside when our lives are at risk.