#Opinion

Staying Unvaccinated Is A Privilege Only Celebrities Can Afford

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Staying unvaccinated: Actor Pooja Bedi revealed on October 17 that she has tested positive for COVID-19 along with her fiancé and house help. “I chose/choose to stay unvaccinated as it’s my personal decision to allow my own natural immunity and alternative healing and wellness practices to accelerate my healing,” she wrote in the caption of her post, further urging everyone to do what’s right. Bedi has been in news over the past few months for her controversial views on the pandemic. When a celebrity openly rejects vaccination drive, what sort of message does it send to the general public?

Hopefully, Bedi and others who tested positive in her household will soon feel better. However, experiencing mild or moderate symptoms of COVID-19 is not a good excuse to advocate remaining unvaccinated. I say this as a person who has seen the hospitalisation of a loved one due to COVID-19 in the summer of 2021, during the peak of the second wave. The first thing we did, as soon as we were cleared for vaccination by our physician, was to get our jabs (I was told to wait too, since I had symptoms, despite testing negative). Why did we do that? Because we knew how bad things could get with the coronavirus, that too very quickly.

Is COVID-19 out of my life. No, am still dealing with the anxiety brought on by the experience, I have immense hair fall, my periods are still not back on track and my olfactory system is a mess – the smell of Toor dal, sweat, makes me nauseous. Another friend of mine had to see her young daughter battle for life due to Multisystem inflammatory syndrome, brought on by COVID-19 a month after her symptoms had subsided. My maids lost out on work, because people were scared to let them in, unless they got fully vaccinated. Do people like Bedi take other people’s sufferings into consideration before casually trivialising a pandemic?

Bedi has every right to make a choice for herself, but does she really need to spew conspiracy theories about vaccination drive in the country and call it “sinister” and “illogical”? She tweeted in August, after India had faced the horrific second wave of the pandemic, “If 99% survive covid with or without the vaccine.. the govt needs to focus on isolating, vaccinating & masking THOSE who have COMBORBITIES & are in the risk bracket. NOT VACCINATE the whole world!”

Bedi naturally faced criticism for her post, as she did for her post from April, in which she urged people to “not spent caged and masked for a year/ years in fear of a virus that’s clearly not going away,” while people across the country were pictured dying outside hospitals and others were left begging for medicines, hospital beds and oxygen.

How oblivious does one have to be to have no idea about the dangers of making reckless statements from a public platform? A person with 143,000 followers needs to understand that their statements carry value. They can’t go around making comments and expect no consequences. Bedi could have chosen to not share such irresponsible statements, and remain unvaccinated, as a personal choice. But she chose to share with the world because she is too privileged to even take her own words seriously.

Most people in the country do not enjoy the privileges that Bedi does. They will have to take their shots, else face consequences at work. We can’t even afford to allow our “natural immunity and alternative healing and wellness practices” to accelerate our healing. Bedi needs to acknowledge this privilege and censor herself. She can continue to live her glamourous Goa life, jetting off from one beach to another, but she has no right to use that as a benchmark to pass remarks or verdicts on a vital process that could keep numerous people from harm’s way.

Views expressed are the author’s own.


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