Who will go first?

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Who will go first?

KANG KI-HEON
The author is an industry 1 team reporter of the JoongAng Ilbo.

Vaccines are a complex issue related to medicine, sociology and politics. Vaccination, in particular, is a social and political issue. Vaccine development is based on medicine, but vaccinations are based on social consensus. Herd immunity can only be reached when every member of a society is vaccinated. That’s why vaccination is just as important as development. On an XY plane, the X-axis may be vaccine development, but the Y-axis is vaccination.

The return of measles in the United States is a living textbook case on the importance of vaccination. The United States declared the eradication of measles in 2000, but in the last few years, measles are spreading again. Some parents refuse to have their children vaccinated because of rumors that MMR, the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, may cause autism.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention statistics show a rapid increase in the number of measles cases since 2010. In 2019, 1,282 cases occurred, exceeding 1,000 for the first time since 2010. Last year, the number of patients plunged to 13, due to Covid-19 social distancing.

The history of people being anti-vaccine follows the history of vaccines. In 1871, the Dutch government required all students to get smallpox vaccines, but an anti-vaccine group was organized in 1881, arguing that it violates personal freedom. The anti-vaccine movements continue in Britain, the United States, Nigeria and other countries.

A similar situation is happening over Covid-19 vaccines in Korea. AstraZeneca vaccinations are to begin from Feb. 26, but 93.8 percent have agreed to get the vaccine. The remaining 6.2 percent refused. Refusal is an issue experienced in many countries that started vaccination before Korea.

To overcome this, presidents or health policy heads stepped forward to be the first person to get inoculated. In December, Joe Biden, then president-elect, received a Covid-19 vaccine which was broadcast live, sending a message to the anti-vaxxers in the United States. In France, Israel and Indonesia, the president or health policy chief was the first to get the vaccine.

In Korea, former lawmaker Yoo Seong-min claimed that President Moon Jae-in should get the vaccine first to clear up the distrust. Who will be the first person to get vaccinated in Korea?

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