Pa-Auk finally vaccinated 2000 of its residents across its branch monasteries with a privately sponsored SinoPharm vaccine. Pa-Auk Pyin Oo Lwin branch had its vaccines delivered on September 18th, 2021 with about half of the total population signed up. Vaccination was voluntary and provided by donors.
While it did take a long time for us to get the vaccine, the government did invite us for the vaccine back in April or May 2021. However, for various reason, the vaccine was declined. Furthermore, since we had, and still have, a fairly strict lock-down and quarantine procedure, it was felt that Pa-Auk could wait until the information and situation were more clear. The decision needed a delicate balance that protects those who want the vaccine and also those who wish to rely on isolation.
There are many factors, especially in this branch monastery, where The Most Venerable Pa-Auk Sayadawgyi resides. Because of his age and existing health conditions he is quite vulnerable to COVID-19. Furthermore, not everyone is getting vaccinated, so there is also a risk to those who do not get vaccinated.
Making the decisions for the monastics was not easy. Even if a smaller percentage of people die from getting the vaccine than of those who get the disease, what about that one person who might die from the vaccine and not the disease itself? Would you like to be making these decisions? We appreciate Sayadaw U Candima in taking the lead on making these decisions . In the end, SinoPharm seems like a good choice. It is non-GMO and appears to be broader in its scope but less focused. That could be good in the age of variants. I’m glad I’m not the one making those decisions, that vaccinations are voluntary, and that the vaccine eventually did come.
As we are finding out, there is a lot of misinformation from the media leading people to believe that the vaccines will prevent COVID infections. We are slowly learning that efficacy does not mean prevention. It just means it has some effectiveness in reducing the serious cases. My pro-vax sister told me that prevention of serious illness means that if you get sick, go to the hospital and you are sent home with an oxygen tank, that is considered “not-serious”. You need to be careful when you hear about “Chinese Vaccines” too. China was the first to start rolling out vaccines, so it makes sense that problems would happen proportionally in time and with new variants. Furthermore, you might hear that Chinese vaccines are less effective for the Delta variant even though all vaccines are less effective against the Delta variant. There is quite a lot of bending of the truth from the media which is supported indirectly by big Pharma. We are now getting more “time tested” information about the American produced vaccines too. Lastly, the SinoPharm is different from the SinoVac vaccine. If you have heard about problems with the “Chinese Vaccine” it probably referenced to SinoVac and not SinoPharm. In either case, they all help as long as you don’t react to the vaccine and die. Let’s hope that Pa-Auk has a zero reaction rate. My mother has had her third Pfizer dose, yet she still needs to wear a mask. Nevertheless, I do believe the statistics about serious illness of those who are vaccinated versus those who are not vaccinated. That was why I got my first jab.
As for the antivaxers out there, USA can treat many cases and lower the death rate while Myanmar cannot do that. As I said before, you can go to a hospital and get treatment and get sent home with an oxygen tank and that is considered, “not serious”. In Myanmar, there are shortages of oxygen tanks and the hospitals are closed. Myanmar is not doing so well with COVID-19. The problem is magnified by the political climate, mistrust of the government and the CDM (Civil Disobedience Movement) which crippled the healthcare system during a time of need. Most of the locals inside the monastery personally know someone who has died of COVID and we are swamped with requests for metta (prayers) for people suffering from the disease.
I hope things get better for the country, for COVID and a benevolent government can evolve.