February 3, 2023

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A slap in the face to the vaccine-wounded, Avetsland – Doc

Senior Physician Priben Avetsland at the Institute of Public Health. Photo: Tor Erik Schrøder/NTB.

the day before Christmas I write Specialist Director of the Public Health Institute (FHI), Professor Priben Avetsland, “Oh, what a great overlap between Putinists and anti-vaxxers here on Twitter. Random? Barely.” The statement is not a Christmas gift for those infected with the vaccine and their relatives, but a slap in the face.

I don’t know the professional director’s empirical basis for his statement about the overlap between “Putinists and anti-vaccinationists,” and I hardly think there is one. What he means by “Putinists” and “anti-vaccinationists” is not clear. However, it is reasonable to believe that by “Putinists” he means people trying to see the nuances of an issue, and I can’t see the department director among them.

Perhaps more seriously, the use of the term “anti-vaxxers” does not lend itself to a nuanced discussion of the COVID-19 vaccination, which has been difficult for many, and where there are still unanswered questions. In order to gain new knowledge, it is important to stimulate healthy discussion, but with his polarizing choice of words, the Topic Manager does not contribute to this.

By writing “Putinists” and “anti-vaxxers,” the professional manager also indicates a condescending attitude towards those who think differently on political and medical issues than himself. His condescending attitude towards “anti-vaccinators” is a slap in the face for those infected after being vaccinated against the Coronavirus.

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So far it has been reported There are more than 60,000 possible side effects for the Norwegian Medicines Agency, of which more than 7,300 are considered serious. Cases that can be directly linked to the vaccine are still uncertain – numbers will be revised up or down later – but to put the stats in perspective It was reported in 2009 801 possible side effects of the swine flu vaccine, of which 201 were considered serious. “The most dangerous vaccine disaster of modern times”, Aavitsland stated When the serious side effect numbers were later revised down to 548.

However, after more than 7,300 reports so far about potentially dangerous side effects of coronavirus vaccination, I have not heard similar statements from the dedicated director, but instead he seems more interested in caricatures of “anti-vaxxers” and associating them with “Putin supporters”.

Whether a dedicated director is suitable to provide medical advice to the Norwegian population is not up to me to assess, but perhaps in that case we should allow those who have incurred huge costs through the covid-19 vaccination program to have their say. There are those who chose to remain unvaccinated despite the costs of stigma, those who did not want to be vaccinated, but for various reasons found it difficult not to be vaccinated, not least those whose health has been damaged today by vaccination and their relatives.

Jarl Erstad is Professor at Høgskulen på Vestlandet, Bergen.

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