Vaccinations & Body Autonomy 0 800

We’ve all heard the saying “My Body, My Choice.” It applies to almost everything within our lives, what we choose to eat, how we choose to live and the ways we choose to use our bodies. It is a cut and dry reasoning that works for most scenarios, however, when it comes to vaccinations, does My Body, My Choice still hold ground?

In recent years, body autonomy has been mainly used in the context of the pro-life vs pro-choice debate. The pro-choice movement; a leftist cause, believes that individuals have a right to decide what happens to their bodies. A sentiment that is heavily opposed by the more conservative, pro-life movement. Ironically enough, when it came down to vaccinations, the same rhetoric shared by the pro-choice allies was picked up by the anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers, who are predominantly more conservative. They too believe that it is their body, therefore their choice to decide what to put into it.

This is where things become muddy. When it comes to deciding about something like abortion, it is extremely personal. It heavily affects the life of the individual making the decision and no one else (aside from family and friends). This decision doesn’t affect the mass public and definitely does not put anyone else at risk besides the person choosing to go through with the procedure. It is a decision that exists between that person and their body.

With vaccinations, on the other hand, the consideration of the decision goes further to affect a wider range of people. Not only does it affect your personal health but it affects factors like the healthcare system in your country, the lives of all the people you interact with daily and the ability for the pandemic to come to an end. In a sense, it is a decision that is much bigger than you.

How can we mediate this situation? Individuals should have a right to decide what goes into their bodies, especially when it is something to do with their wellbeing and health. But when the collective is put at risk with your decision, do you still fully have body autonomy?

Governments everywhere have been pushing their citizens to get vaccinated as soon as possible. The rate of vaccination all over the world has seen an exponential increase with a further upturn to come in the next few weeks. Rules are slowly being relaxed for fully vaccinated people and vaccinations will likely be a pre-requisite for travel in the near future.

All these factors will also play a key role in not-so-subtly coercing those who are refusing vaccinations. Many who are apprehensive will feel the pressure and seeing their fully dosed peers going back to life will make it very difficult to stay firm on their stance. Does this challenge body autonomy? Probably. But when it comes to the collective good, is it okay for us to give up some of ourselves for the sake of everyone else?

What do you think?

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AstraZene-Can or Cannot? 0 922

As of this week, Malaysians within the Klang Valley have voluntarily signed up for the AstraZeneca vaccine. This specific vaccine has been polarising within the community for it’s side-effects, some believing that the risk of side-effects are worth the safety of the vaccine and some believing that the risks don’t outweigh the benefits. We sat down with two individuals, one who says can and one who says cannot to hear both perspectives. Before we get into that, let’s lay out some facts:

  • AstraZeneca is a viral vector vaccine
  • The vaccine was created by a partnership between The University of Oxford and British-Swedish company AstraZeneca
  • The AstraZeneca vaccine is 63.09% effective against Covid-19
  • In viral vector vaccines, genetic materials from the Covid-19 virus are inserted into another kind of weakened live virus. It is then injected into your cells and your immune system responds by creating antibodies and defensive white blood cells
  • About four people in a million develop blood clots from the vaccines
  • Because of the blood clotting, Denmark has stopped its AstraZeneca rollout completely and Germany, Spain, Italy and Ireland have suspended use of the vaccine in people under 60.



So can or cannot?

What made you decide to take / not take this vaccine?

Can: I chose this vaccine because it’s the one that I could get the soonest. Considering my age and health condition, I had a feeling that I wouldn’t be able to get a vaccine before someone like my parents or others with health risks. But I do suffer from anxiety (anxious whether getting Covid-19 or transmitting it to someone else), and getting vaccinated ASAP just means that I can reduce the risk for myself and others.

Cannot: Generally I am afraid of all new vaccines. Specifically with this one there hasn’t been enough time and data to really understand the side-effects. AstraZeneca has also been pulled from a few countries which makes me even more apprehensive.

Did you do a lot of research before making your decision?

Can: Yes I did! A lot. Twitter has been a good source of information especially a few days before they rolled out the AstraZeneca vaccination programme. A lot of doctors also came out to bust some of the myths surrounding this vax especially regarding the risk of blood clots. And vox explainer videos were great too!

Cannot: Not a lot but some research. I mainly read news articles but didn’t dive into the research.

In what ways do you feel the benefits outweigh the side-effects / side-effects outweigh the benefits?

Can: Mainly that fact that it’s the vaccine we can get the soonest and that means we’re one step closer to ending the pandemic. Gaining immunity is not just for ourselves, but for everyone around us, especially those who aren’t able to receive the vaccines due to health complications. #KitaJagaKita 

Cannot: From what I have read there are 2 types of vaccines, the MRNA and the more traditional kind that delivers a small dose of the virus into your body. What I have been told and read is that the more traditional vaccines are better. Also, it looks like where there are alternative vaccines without the blood-clotting side-effect then I would prefer to take that.

Do you feel fearful of the side-effects:

Can: I was fearful at first, but after reading up about the side effects and being aware of what i was experiencing post-vax, I realised that the side effects just means that the vaccine is working. 

Do you feel more swayed after seeing so many people take the vaccine?

Cannot: A little bit, I wonder if I’m making a mistake by not taking it especially since so many people have rushed to get it and don’t seem to be sharing the same fears. 

What has your experience of taking the vaccine been so far?

Can: My experience has been just as I expected – 6 hours after the vaccination, the side effects started kicking in. I was lucky enough to be given Vaccine Leave from work for two days to rest and recover. The first 48 hours were the most difficult, I felt sore all over and had chills (these are the common side effects). In between, I was making sure that I drank lots of water and read up more on the side effects to see what I should look out for. I was popping panadols like candy too! It’s been 72 hours since I was vaccinated and I feel like myself again ready to get back to my normal routine.

If given the choice, what vaccine would be your first choice?

Can: Like I said in point 3, the best vaccine (whatever the ‘brand’ is) is the one that we can get the soonest!

Cannot: Sinovac or any of the other whole virus vaccines.

As we can see, different individuals have different levels of understanding and beliefs on the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine. There’s really no telling without consulting your doctor on which vaccine is best for you, but do keep your eye out for misinformation being spread and get your facts from a reliable source before making any decisions. And don’t forget, we’re all in this together, the sooner we’re all vaccinated the sooner we can put this pandemic behind us.

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Can The Beauty Industry Ever Be Ethical? 0 1441

The beauty industry has been a permanent feature in the business market for as long as most of us can remember. Different industries may be more popular from time to time but the constant that prevails is the need for individuals to be beautiful. From graphic eyeliner to a bejewelled brow and an over-lined lip, we have seen beauty trends change and expand to the times we live. As these trends change, so does the messaging behind them. In the fifties it was all about glamour with Marilyn Monroe-esque makeup, in the early 2000s it was more about embodying the pop stars of the decade, with glossy lips and glittery eyes. Now in 2020, makeup trends have adapted to embracing our own beauty, with beauty icons like Rihannah and the Hadid sisters. In these ‘woke’ times, it is not about using makeup to cover up or look different, but rather about enhancing what is already there. 

This shift in messaging comes about at a time where women are more empowered than ever before. Society is pushing back on the patriarchal notions of beauty while supporting more ethical and sustainable products. More companies are going green with vegan and cruelty-free makeup lines, while makeup artists opt for artistic looks vs the typical caked on cover-up trends we’ve seen for many years. However, the question stands: can an industry that is significantly based on exploiting the insecurities of (mostly) women ever truly be ethical? 

To decipher this issue and unpack it would take essays upon essays because it is deeply historical. Tracing back to the time of the Egyptians, how can we truly understand why makeup even became something that we cared about? How did it come to a point where so many of us feel like we can’t be seen without it? How has billions upon billions of dollars been made from something that is seemingly frivolous and unimportant? Is it the patriarchy? Is it just the way history has evolved? It’s hard to place what allowed it to come to this point but regardless of that fact, here we are.

For the beauty industry to survive it requires people to feel as if they are not enough without these products. If the majority of society felt good about how they looked without what these companies sell, it would be unlikely that the market could exist to the extent that it does now. It is ingrained within us that when a woman leaves her home to participate in society, she does so having her hair and makeup done to a certain preordained standard. If this standard didn’t exist then would the industry thrive the way it does? Unlikely. 

In addition to the insecurity-breeding standard that has been perpetuated by the beauty industry, there is also the issue of how these products are created and tested. In the past, animal testing and mass-production had been the norm. As consumers, we accept these practices because alternatives were scarce and knowledge of the damage was not widespread. However, we yet again see how the influence of social media has allowed information to be disseminated to a widespread audience and consumers becoming more mindful on the production of their favourite cosmetics.

When it comes to such a historical industry that dates back to days of Cleopatra and the French Court, it is hard to truly decide what constitutes an ethical beauty industry and a non-ethical one. The progress we’ve seen in messaging gives us hope that eventually society will move to embrace more body and beauty positivity with makeup being a tool for embracing what we already have. To answer the question, can the beauty industry ever truly be ethical – Yes, but it is going to take a long time and a lot of reconditioning for us to get there. 

What do you think?

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