The World Today for September 22, 2021

NEED TO KNOW

POLAND

Not Yet Convinced

Around half of the people in Poland are fully vaccinated. The other half are leery of heeding the pleas of public health authorities and getting their shots.

“We get all the information from the internet, from the TV here, and nothing has yet convinced me that the vaccine is safe,” said 24-year-old Karolina, who lives in Jeżowe, a village in southeastern Poland where fewer than 21 percent of residents have received at least one shot, during an interview with Politico.

Poland is an outlier in the European Union, where more than 70 percent of adults have been fully vaccinated despite botched development and a slow distribution of vaccines early in the pandemic. Now Poland has one of the bloc’s highest excess mortality rates, reported the New York Times.

Jeżowe is also the heartland of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party. The party-backed presidential incumbent, Andrzej Duda, won more than 90 percent of the vote last year. In nearby Zamosc last month, arsonists torched an inoculation center, according to Bloomberg. Videos of Poles “verbally abusing” paramedics and public health workers have also gone viral throughout the Central European country.

Law and Justice stands accused of using its parliamentary majorities and hold on the presidency to push through populist, nationalistic and socially conservative policies while undermining the courts and media and stripping their political opponents of power. It has nearly banned abortions, limited LGBTQ rights and, as NBC wrote, sought to “erase” Poland’s role in the Holocaust.

EU officials have criticized Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Law and Justice Party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski for their policies, but the Polish leaders have asserted Poland’s sovereignty and told EU officials to mind their own business, as ABC News explained.

Morawiecki’s government and some allies have been pushing Poles to get the coronavirus vaccine. Kaczynski called fellow citizens’ reluctance “extreme egoism,” Euractive wrote. “We need to reach collective immunity. We need to take all possible undertakings, including incentives and more radical steps.”

President Duda, however, has been skeptical of vaccines, leading critics to accuse Law and Justice of appealing to the anti-vax vote. Other officials have also expressed their refusal to receive the shots, Deutsche Welle reported. The German news agency cited a poll saying that 44 percent of Poles were refusing vaccinations while 9 percent were undecided. Fewer than 60 percent of Poles who supported Law and Justice also supported vaccinating, whereas much higher numbers of people who supported opposition parties thought vaccines are a good idea.

In a democracy, the views of others deserve respect.

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