‘Do not be afraid, just believe in science’; these are the first words Sindee told ELPA.
ELPA reached Ms. Sindee Weinbaum, representative of the ELPA Member Hetz, the Israeli Association For The Health Of the Liver, and the ELPA Working Group leader on Rare Liver Diseases. She is the first person belonging to ELPA’s family to be given the Covid-19 jab on December 27, 2020, in Tel Aviv as part of a mass vaccination program.
ELPA: So, finally, a vaccine. How did you welcome this news? Did you feel worried or scared? Did you have second thoughts?
Sindee: When I realized I could have been among the first people receiving it, I had mixed feelings. I was absolutely relieved and happy that the vaccination program started. Still, at the same time, as a person living with liver disease and under medication, I was scared of possible side effects because of my personal condition. I took the courage, I call my hepatologist, a person I trust, and he cleared me, so I took the appointment.
E: You are an advocate for patients’ rights and a patient yourself. How and why could this vaccine be crucial for people living with liver disease?
S: Firstly, people living with liver disease should not be afraid of vaccination. Secondly, they should consult their physicians, their hepatologists and ask them for a piece of advice if they should have the vaccine shot now or later. Everything depends on their personal health conditions if they are stable although their medical condition. Every case is different.
However, we should trust medicine, science, and we should trust this vaccine and all the vaccines that will come shortly. They are the safest and the most effective response to the Covid-19.
E: Do you think the anti-vaccine movement has some reason to be against it?
S: Let me start by saying I am totally in favor of vaccines, not only of the Covid-19 one. Unfortunately, the anti-vaccine movement was not born this year, and it is not easy to change these people’s opinions that are mainly based on non-scientific arguments. I do not know if the pandemic we are experiencing is such a traumatic event that they got extremely scared, even more than before, and it is a kind of protective reaction. What I do know is that there are many people around me, very close to me, who are against this vaccine because they do not realize how serious the damages of this situation are. More than scared, I think they are denialists. From a political point of view, it is difficult to back up the choice of making this vaccine compulsory in a democratic system. Yet, I am aware that if the vaccination is not massive, it will not work.
Probably we should exercise our art of persuasion and word of mouth, talking to people, orienting them towards reliable sources of information, both in our private life and as patients’ associations.
E: From a personal point of view, what does this opportunity represent for you, and what could it represent for all of us?
S: It represents the possibility to hug and kiss all my loved ones! I am sure it is the same for many people! Sorry to be so emotional, but this virus took from us what is most important to us, our social life. I know I am not only emotional but also a bit naïve. After having taken the vaccine shot appointment, I told myself I would have booked a flight to the US to visit my son right after the vaccination, and then I realized that it would not have been the case. The fight against the virus will be long, although we have already started vaccination campaigns in many countries worldwide. For this reason, it should be clear to everybody that we have to keep holding on, wearing masks, washing our hands, and keeping the distance.
Still, this vaccine is great news!