The Outside In and the Inside Out of the News: Will You Get Vaccinated?

By Rómulo Mar

In Guatemala CoVid19 is again capturing the headlines as it is a highly contagious and active virus.  As one report follows another and another, the possibility of vaccine injects people with optimism.  Prensa Libre (one of Guatemala’s daily newspapers with national circulation) printed in its January 10, 2021 edition, “The Ministry of Public Health and Social Services has registered more than 700 infected individuals daily and hospitals’ intensive care units are at full capacity.”  On Monday, January 11, President Giammattei risked closing the country again due to more than a thousand positive cases registered over the last weekend.  On the 12th, the Health Ministry reported 1800 cases and an upward trend.  These news reports only confirm that the situation in Guatemala, generally speaking, has become serious, steadily worsening, since the beginning of the pandemic.  And now it’s even worse due to the complete relaxing {of the  earlier strict guidelines}.

In light of this nation-wide situation, the government’s delay in taking actions necessary to procure the vaccine is incomprehensible given that its creation and availability have been front and center.  Neighboring countries move forward with procurement and have begun vaccinating which will result in a return to risk-free normalcy in their respective jurisdictions, e.g. in Mexico and Costa Rica.  Both countries convened vaccination regimens as early as the middle of this past December.  There are three vaccines on the market that are highly effective and the most recommended and most available:  the  Pfizer, Moderna and Astra-Zeneca vaccines.  Four countries have led in their manufacture:  United Kingdom, Russia, China and the US.

Finally on January 12th a bright light of hope was turned on, about to become reality, with the encouraging news that the national Congress was about to approve, “authorization from the Finance Ministry of 1,500,000,000 quetzals for expenditure in 2020 by the Ministry of Health to purchase vaccine”.  Similarly, in some departments provincial authorities have held meetings to define goals of distribution and administrative plans.  We will hope that all this continues well, and that this large allocation doesn’t turn into loot for the coffers of the corrupt.

But the fight against corona virus poses other inconveniences like the intersecting of various pieces of information, some true, some false.  On one hand there’s the need for us to get immunized, but on the other hand, there are rumors that a microchip meant to control us is implanted via the vaccination.  But worse yet is the version that the vaccine could disrupt DNA when first administered to its recipient.  The only thing missing is for them to invent a tale that this invasive virus is part of a conspiracy by Elon Musk to colonize the planet Mars.  Wow!  The situation is such that the great majority of our compatriots remain in limbo, very confused and undecided.  Either way the fear is great.  Either we infect ourselves or we submit to being under the control of the powerful.  A grand dilemma.  And what some say has to be added in, is that in some cases, reactions to each vaccine type are severe, which creates even greater fear.  How complicated are our societies!!

In the case that we have a run of good luck and finally the long-awaited immunization is available to us, it will be worth remembering that Giammattei government has announced that, “The prioritized groups to receive the first doses are:  health care personnel (public and private) rescue workers, teachers, public security, general population 60 and over, and the most vulnerable (between 18 and 60 years of age).”  Also, the general student population ought to be considered so that education goes on without further setbacks.  And according to this same administration, the vaccine against CoVid19 that will be acquired could cover 8.4 million  Guatemalans this year.  So what about the other 12 million people?  Why is an effort not made to cover the entire population?  I fear that this policy will create a new form of social discrimination with the vaccinated stigmatizing those who are not.

To conclude not everything looks negative.  There is another small piece to the story and it’s positive. Authorities have indicated that the immunizations will be free of charge.  So, fine, yet they will be purchased with the peoples’ money, right?  Finally, this question keeps coming up for me:  given the remote possibility I am lucky enough that the vaccine is offered to me will I get vaccinated?   Yes, absolutely.  But I would wait until the last moment, not because I don’t believe in it, rather because I’ve always been reticent about medicines.   And I want there to be enough for everyone.  And what about you? Do you think they will actually immunize us as part of a trial?  Dystopia is accentuated for us.

Rómulo Mar is an author and the founder of the video channel Letras En Director and the print newspaper El Revisor.  In 2018 through the Chiquimula local government declared him “The honorable cultural hero of the Department of Chiquimula”.  He has published eight books, two are poetry, two are short stories and four are novels.

The previous article was originally published in gaZeta, a nonprofit, lay, nonpartisan digital media source open to all opinions. The original article can be read in Spanish at this link: