Word of the Year 2021

I have been thinking for a while about the word of the year 2021.
The word of the year 2021 I believe is vaccine.

How many times have you heard it said? Sometimes, an old and very well known word is renewed, launched again and then it takes over. I definitely think that the word of the year 2021 is vaccine.

This word is about 220 years old. For a word, it is a child. It was born in England thanks to a British doctor, Edward Jenner, one of the heroes we don’t remember very often. He asked himself the good question: “why the female peasants did not get smallpox, that is a deadly disease?”.

In 1794 he found out the good answer – cows gave them a less deadly disease, cowpox, that protected them from the human one.

He discovered this because he decided to carry out some experiments. He infected an 8-year-old boy, his gardener’s son, with cowpox pus. Later he inoculated the child with the smallpox and the child did not get the disease, because the cowpox pus had immunized him.

Thanks to this first experiment, during the XX century many vaccines were discovered. Just to mention the main ones: tetanus, diphtheria, polio, tuberculosis, hepatitis, flu. We have integrated them into our lives at their two ends, childhood and old age. For many years we have stopped vaccinating against smallpox.

Then Covid has broke out.

When the pandemic started to spread around the world (it seems to me ages ago, but it was only in 2020) the vaccine race took off right away. It was the only hope of returning to a “normal” life, of shaking off the weight of the countries that forced their citizens to give up so many freedoms in the name of their health.

It was also a unique business. Countries missed an opportunity – equally unique – to create the solution the world needed, and left it to corporations. And they began to sell the vaccines massively. Does it sound familiar to you too?

The process was extraordinary. In a short time, and all over the world, researchers discovered the vaccine that should have helped us to go back to the so-called “normality”. We waited for it, we looked for it, and since the first shots, some of us have started questioning it so much that it seemed to me they wanted to go back to the seventeenth century.

They work it out by saying that they distrust their own country’s government, or they mistrust science, or both. So suspicions of barbarism abound in the most educated and in the so called developed countries. In Europe you find anti-vaccine people (we call them “no vax”) mainly in France, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK and Italy.

There they are outraged, demonstrate on the streets, and are imperturbable to ignore that, now, the majority of hospitalized people and those killed by Covid are other fools who did not want to be vaccinated.

It is a problem that raises others: that of individual freedom, without going any further. Countries discuss what to do, actually what they have the right to do with the reluctant ones. If the reasons for the common good authorizes them to force “no-vax”people to get vaccinated. Since they do not decide, and they are stuck in the debate, Covid survives.

It is mainly because of “no vax” people and the inability of most of the governments to decide that Covid is still circulating. But not only.

The vaccine has also become a measure of injustice. Countries where it is left over, countries where it is lacking. At the end of 2021, only 7.2% of Africans have received both doses. A person immunized out of 13 gives as a result that the virus is still there and survives in spite of all the efforts.

The vaccine has become the best demonstration of something obvious that so many prefer not to see. That there is no partial salvation, that no one will be safe if we all (all over the world) are saved, and that not vaccinating the poorest causes new strains to develop that attack the richest and make their efforts, and their vaccines as well, useless.

Inequality is also found there. In rich countries the problem is those who do not want the vaccine. In poor countries those who do not have it, but would like to. Actually, it would be a luxury for them to say no to a jab.

At this rate, very soon we are going to finish the Greek alphabet at the price of many lives.

Then, what will be the word of 2022? Silliness? Inequality? Inability?

Would you agree with me that the word of 2021 is vaccine? And what do you think the word of the year may be in 2022?

Let me know!

I wish you all a very happy and successful 2022. Take care and stay healthy!

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17 thoughts on “Word of the Year 2021

  1. Happy New year to you, too, Cris.

    I reckon I agree with you – vaccine would rank high for me, too. Vaccine/jab. Then, lockdown.

    The points you’ve made regarding vaccine availability and uptake have also been noted. Their is also the view that pharmaceutical companies are making billions where vaccines are concerned and governments are caught like helpless fish, selling the hope of a better and safer future with 2 shots, followed by a booster and possible over the counter pills.

    People also believe that the speedy production of the C-19 vaccines could mean that they are flawed in some way and did not undergo years of rigorous testing. I think alot of the mistrust is centered on that point as well. They look at polio and other viruses for their comparisons.

    To touch on the inequality of vaccine availability in poorer states, LDCs, etc. and the selfish stockpiling by richer states of vaccines would be for me to highjack your post as, after all, you asked about readers’ thoughts on the 2021 word of the year and not the continued North/South divide which exacerbates the chasm between the haves and have nots of this Earth.

    I am not sure what the word could be for 2022, it is rather early days. But I hope that it is a word birthed in change and positive action; brimming with real hope.

    Best wishes once again!

  2. I too believe that vaccination is the need of the hour and seriously hope all supports it and get inoculated as soon as possible to avoid devastating repercussions.

  3. I prefer to give attention to looking forward. To choosing a word on which to focus my attention in this new year. My word for 2022 is “peace”, and my plan is to do everything I can in my sphere of influence, to spread peace, both personal peace and world peace.

  4. Ah, what an interesting post! Some great history and perspective in which to put our vaccine and hopes that we may all look back on this and one day celebrate such a quick creation of the vaccine. And even more hopeful – that we will help the countries that don’t have such great access to it to distribute it to our people.

    It strikes me that there are 2 words for every year – one for what we hope it will be and one that represents what it actually may be. I’m hoping for “unity” for 2022.

    Thanks for this great post!

  5. As a mother of an autistic child, I have been in one too many chat rooms and learnt about vaccines. But when it was rolled out we all decided to get ourselves vaccinated since we found the risk was too high. Inspite of it, our entire family had covid. I felt relieved that I need not rush to vaccinate my boys again with a booster since I felt it was overkill. But I pray and hope that things change this year and we get some other new word. Something more encouraging. As an autistic Mom I am scared of the word vaccines. http://specialmomsblog.mom/2021/12/24/christmas-eve-pondering/

    1. I understand your point of view. When I was a child, my parents took me to the hospital because of a severe reaction to vaccines (three in one shot, now they do even more…). I am also scared about vaccination generally speaking. However, I had already three jabs of anti-COVID vaccines, because the risked linked to COVID were higher than those linked to the vaccines (as you say in your post). In my case, the most important thing is living close to the emergencies of an hospital. I think that you as a mother of an autistic child knows what is best for him.

      1. He was the first one vaccinated in my family for covid. This was a no one win situation. Let’s hope for a better 2022.

  6. I reckon if the word for 2020 was pandemic and the word for 2021 was vaccine, then the word for 2022 will endemic. People will want an end to the endless shut downs, etc and debate how exactly we are getting out of this. How we will learn to live with it. I like the question Cristiana! Great post 🙏

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