Six out of 10 Greeks who say that they will not be vaccinated claim that nothing will make them change their minds – neither more information from scientists and doctors, nor advice from religious figures, nor urging from friends and relatives, nor the danger of losing their jobs. In other words, 56% of those who refuse to be vaccinated are turning their backs on the whole of society. In what dark world do these compatriots of ours live? What exactly are they fighting against? Can anything help change their minds?
The recent poll by Pulse for Skai television puts the anti-vaxxers at 7% of the population. It allows us to distinguish between the hard core and those who could change their minds. It shows that, at its heart, the problem is one of confidence, of trust. Zealots don’t believe what the many say, while they place inordinate faith in what they want to believe. They have already decided what they believe. They reject government announcements and the mainstream news media.
The internet and social networks encourage isolated people of extreme views to feel that they are stars in an important struggle. Similarly, movements of many people gain even greater influence. That is why it is imperative to shake the certainty, the self-confidence, that the internet cultivates in them. Social networks ought to flag dangerous posts and direct visitors to sources of responsible information. This might help those who are sincerely concerned about the safety of the vaccines, but not those who consider information part of the conspiracy against them. This is why there must be strict checks on the sources of disinformation. A good start was made with the police and judicial investigation into some websites and social media accounts suspected of spreading false information and attempting fraud. Also, it is difficult to believe that people can maintain websites for long periods, or buy large amounts of paint in order to write wordy anti-vaxxer slogans on concrete embankments on provincial roads, without economic benefit or at least some support. The movement brings together a most eclectic group who, together, gain influence. It is likely that there are sources of financing that encourage society’s disruption, either for economic or political ends. It is imperative that this be revealed.
The most powerful measure, though, would be to present, every single day, on all media platforms, each death caused by Covid-19. Because, however much one can insist on lies, however much one believes them, the truth is relentless.