Bishop Clyde Harvey of St Georges-in-Grenada has cautioned that entertainers can wield more influence than government officials and the use of reason alone is not enough to deal with vaccine hesitancy.
“Nicki Minaj, because of who she is, has influence, and you can talk as much as you like about the vaccines, it’s the only thing that you have,” he said on the live ‘Conversation with Bishop Harvey’ Thursday, September 16 on the Diocese’s Facebook page.
Bishop Harvey was giving his views on the controversial tweet from Trinidad-born, rapper Nicki Minaj, Monday, September 13, that her cousin won’t get vaccinated because his friend’s testicles became swollen after vaccination. Minaj, real name Onika Maraj, has more than 20 million Twitter followers. The tweet caused a furor worldwide.
Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh criticised the time wasted trying to locate the affected person who could not be found. Dr Anthony Fauci, Director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the Chief Medical Advisor to the US President said there was no evidence to support Minaj’s statement.
Bishop Harvey said young and even adult men hearing her statement would “have a heaviness in their head and they have another heaviness to deal with” and be afraid. “We cannot fool ourselves into believing that reason is going to overcome that.”
He insisted that persons who are influenced should not be condemned as foolish because they have grown up within a culture where a musician, whether Jamaican singer, song-writer Bob Marley, or Grenadian Calypsonian ‘Scholar’ [Finley Jeffery], have “as much influence or more influence than a prime minister, than a minister of health, that is what we have to deal with”.
Bishop Harvey said the “rational thing” should be done with putting out the information, however, officials should be aware that this was not the most influential thing happening or that stopping the “so-called stupid people” would help. He added, “There has to be a sense of we are in this together.”
He mentioned that young people have expressed to him confusion with the different messages they are receiving. He said the public was told the vaccine would offer protection against the virus, then later, it would protect against serious illness, but people could still get Covid.
“Vaccination is one thing that we can do yes, but I have no intention of making vaccination an absolute,” he said.
As an international entertainer, Bishop Harvey said he was appalled by Minaj’s comments because she failed to understand her own responsibility. It was wrong not only because others said it was wrong and she can’t prove it, but also the “distraction” and “time wasting” that occurred with the White House issuing a statement.
“That is wrong”, Harvey stressed. “We have to condemn in no uncertain terms, the purveyors of misinformation and false news through what we call today conspiracy theories.”
Up to September 19, Grenada had over 3,841 Covid-19 cases and 50 deaths; 21,348 persons were fully vaccinated and 31,721 received a first dose. —LPG