Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine misinformation has been rampant in Lebanon even before vaccines were approved. In a recent interview on OTV’s Yawm Jdid, a Lebanese doctor had a heated discussion with the host of the program about this important issue.
During the interview with TV host Sahar Zgheib, Dr. Hanina Abi Nader expressed his annoyance about the misinformation that has been circulating in Lebanon and altering many people’s perception of the vaccine and their willingness to receive it.
As the doctor began to elaborate, Zgheib argued that there has been “a lot of news about the vaccines,” adding that people have been hearing different recommendations going around about the different vaccines.
“Did you hear from your doctor?” Dr. Abi Nader quickly fired back.
“Why would someone ask his neighbor or the pharmacist or read on Google, and why would he ask someone who’s isn’t involved in medicine?”
The general practitioner then directed the question to the show’s host. “Did you ask your doctor?”
Instead, she answered referring to online talks: “Sometimes, prominent British or American doctors are saying the side-effects might be significant.”
Dr. Abi Nader responded by stressing that Lebanon does have prominent experts and in its best hospitals and they have all confirmed the safety of the vaccine and recommended its use.
He then noted that no one is forced to take the vaccine, before a brief pause in the conversation.
“Are you calm now, doctor, can we speak?” Zgheib started again, apparently provoking Abi Nader, who went on to slam the host for endorsing the “people said” argument when discussing the sensitive topic.
Zgheib then reiterated that she was basing the argument on “well-known American, British, or Lebanese doctors,” prompting Abi Nader to ask her to name one of those doctors.
“Name one,” he insisted several times as she attempted to dodge the question, saying he would not continue the discussion if she did not name one of the doctors she was citing. She did not.
“We have to name the doctor. We can’t say, ‘the doctor said,’ we have to name him. We’ll look at his CV and he’ll turn out not to be a doctor after all…” he added.
“In America, Johns Hopkins [University] said you should take the vaccine, and I follow the guidelines of the world’s best hospitals. I don’t follow what people say,” the doctor continued.
Zgheib then stressed that she encourages people to take the vaccine when it arrives, explaining that she only wanted to address the questions that people were having about the vaccines.
“Confusion is killing people. It’s not a joke,” Dr. Abi Nader responded, noting the “state of hysteria” that doctors are living through today, and emphasizing that experts should be the only reference for vaccine-related news and information.
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