By Dr. Fozia Cheema
As people share so many stories about being treated badly and discriminated against living in foreign countries, I have something beautiful to share.
An early birthday present to me, to a Muslim, first-generation immigrant, my COVID-19 vaccine. I feel privileged that I am among one of the 9,750 people in Denmark who got their first COVID-19 vaccine today. As I was getting my vaccines, I was honoring the 197 million individuals globally, who died of COVID-19.
I am full of mixed emotions. I am grateful for science and the incredible work of scientists who put so much effort into it but I am frustrated that people are spreading too much misinformation about the first COVID-19 and now vaccines. I am worried that Covid may never be disappearing from my country, and I am ashamed that there might come a day when I will be standing in line at Pakistan airport and taking my covid shot, just like my polio drops at the age of thirty-one again. I am sad for those, who did not get the opportunity to get the vaccine and lost their lives and I am hopeful that this Insha’Allah will be the beginning of a normal life with long walks with loved ones, afternoon teas, family gatherings, handshaking, and full of hugs brighter mornings and calmer nights.
Vaccines bring so many childhood memories to me. Growing up with a father who appreciated science and knowledge more than anything else, my childhood was filled with so many vaccination days. Almost one yearly, where we siblings put our best frocks and pajamas on our way to the vaccination center. We were happy and frightened at the same time. Happy because it was a day off from school and afraid, as no child likes injections and its aftereffects/sick days.
I can remember the tall ”Safaida trees” (Eucalyptus) and yellow-painted buildings, where we played outside and waited for our turns. Across those yellow buildings were huge white bungalows of civil servants, and I do not know about others, but those beautiful quiet bungalows had a fairy tale effect on me. I never saw anyone coming out or going in those buildings except for a watchman who was always standing there as quiet as the building itself. My father once told me that those who live in these houses have passed some difficult Central Superior Service (CSS) examinations.
I can’t remember clearly if it was spring or autumn, but I am pretty sure we never took vaccines in summer or winter, as I can still feel the comfort of the wind blowing in my face. Our walk towards the vaccine center was filled with counting the yellow leaves, laughing about meaningless jokes, and discussing the myths of the little world we knew back then, like are the people in those white buildings are humans? do they come out when it is dark? Their children must have the prettiest frocks and pajamas, much better than us for sure. And how to do CSS, can girls also give this exam? Etc. etc. Walking from the vaccine center to home was not that fun though. I can remember Zaika Baji (elder sister—who is now a Gynecologist in Hafizabad—a town of Pakistani Punjab) comforting us all the way back with her funny and not so true stories about vaccines.
But the thing I remember the most is, people making fun of our family, nobody was interested in vaccines and people did not believe in vaccines in our area. I remember asking my father, what’s the purpose, why we get vaccines?? nobody else gets and they are never sick.
And my father always said, “ jahil nateeja daikhnay kah bad amal karta hay aur aqalmand pehlay sah sabab karta hay” (Ignorant wants to see the results before they act, knowledgeable do the necessary first).
He also said, “ wabain kabhe kabhe ate hain,agar roze aten to onhain waba koun kahta ,aur waba roze roze na aiy is kah liay hifazti injection lagwaiy jatay hain aur tadbeer ke jate hay” (Pandemic does not come every day, if it was coming every day, nobody will call it a pandemic. And to prevent them to come every day, there must be taken remedies and vaccines).
Please don’t threaten and drain your immune system with anger and negativity and don’t press it to fight an unnecessary fight. Rather prepare it for the necessary, to conquer the invisible strong enemy by getting vaccinated
As expected, I had severe aches in my arm and my whole body, moderate headache, and mild fever. I was freezing. I was very dizzy and could not sleep all night after the vaccine shot. But I am thankful that my immune system is battling and working and the Insha’Allah vaccine would protect me and, and I then will be protecting others by developing herd immunity. Even though I am vaccinated, I will keep on wearing a mask and I will keep on social distancing because we don’t yet know that if vaccines protect the transmission of Covid, we only know that it protects the vaccinated person against Covid.
I know a lot of people are hesitant to get vaccinated, because of the concern for unknown effects from the Covid 19 vaccines, and this is understandable. I can’t, unfortunately, comfort you and reassure you in the way, my father did when I was a child. I can only tell you that if I must choose between covid and vaccines, my choice will always be a vaccine. As I am already seeing the Covid 19 ongoing effects on those who survived it.
That’s what pieces of evidence are telling us so far. Last month a study came out describing the long-term health consequences of patients with Covid 19. They study 1,700 individuals (post covid patients) 6 months after hospital discharge,63 % of them had fatigue/muscle weakness,26% with sleep difficulties, 23% with anxiety and depression, 22 to 56 % with pulmonary abnormalities, and 13% with abnormal kidney function.
Please don’t threaten and drain your immune system with anger and negativity and don’t press it to fight an unnecessary fight. Rather prepare it for the necessary, to conquer the invisible strong enemy by getting vaccinated. And yes, the vaccine does help, and No governments and Bill Gates are trying to control us through microchips. Simpsons might have predicted a lot of things in the past but remember it’s still a cartoon series.
Now my father is gone, but his wisdom mesmerized me every day. How true and how right my father was, pandemic does not come every day if it comes every day, nobody will call it a pandemic and just because it does not come every day, does not mean that we stop believing in science”
Salute to you my father for raising us with the knowledge and wisdom necessary. May Allah reward you for that every day in Heaven—Ameen.