To begin with, the last 12-months period was really difficult for me: I was afraid of my and my relatives’ health because of the COVID-19 pandemics, which made me get vaccinated as soon as possible. However, not everyone has a similar vision on this problem: many protests occurred over the suggestion to make the vaccine mandatory for all because people were concerned about their freedoms and rights to choose.
This opposite point of view inspired my project, and through the photos I took, it is possible to read their slogans: “No mandate on Vax,” “My Body My Choice: Health Freedom,” “Protect our rights, protect our jobs” (Riski & Jaquiss, 2021). To make my idea real and show the whole protestors’ movement through photography, I attended a meeting on the streets of Norco in CA. My basis for this project is that unvaccinated are fast on their way to becoming America’s untouchables, although it cannot be applied to all vaccines but to the COVID-19 one. This is true because the COVID-19 vaccine was urged on Americans with minimal testing, maximum confusion, and no guarantee that the cure would not be worse than the disease.
For this project, I attended a protest to share what is going on in this group of people and how they get their voices heard through the protests. Moreover, I interviewed participants, and they said: “I feel that a vaccine is a huge intervention in my body. Everyone should make this decision for themselves. And just because you do not get vaccinated, it does not mean you are irresponsible or tired of life.” There were other comments, such as: “Just because you do not want a vaccine does not mean you are crazy.” I believe that it is highly important to make an effort to understand the other point of view and show how powerful the unity of people gathering together becomes to make their voices heard. This is exactly what motivates me to take photographs on this subject: whole families with children standing up for their rights. News headlines and social media inspire me a lot: there is much similar fake news, raising anxiety and fear (Koh et al., 2020; Teng et al., 2020). Not everyone can distinguish reliable information from fakes, demonstrating how different people are and how many points of view over a single issue exist.
I was not in conversation with other artists; I was mostly inspired by my community struggling to stay strong and healthy these days. From my perspective, protests over Vaccine Mandate are new and are grounded only in society. Therefore, to show this movement in art, it is necessary to have conversations with protestors themselves and attempt to reflect their position in photography. I want other people to understand that I respect those citizens who go out and let their voice be heard, similar to these protesters against Vaccine Mandate.
In conclusion, I want to state that this project aims at making everyone understand that each person has a right to choose what they want to do with their body and health. According to Anthes and Petri (2021), The Centers for Disease Control calls the current situation a “Pandemic of the unvaccinated.” However, for me personally, they fail to acknowledge that free and fully informed citizens should have the right to put themselves at risk if they choose to do so, and this is what my project means to me.
Anthes, E. & Petri, A. E. (2021). C.D.C. director warns of a ‘Pandemic of the Unvaccinated’. The New York Times, Web.
Koh, P. K. K., Chan, L. L., & Tan, E. K. (2020). Messaging fatigue and desensitisation to information during pandemic. Archives of Medical Research, 51(7), 716-717.
Riski, T. & Jaquiss, N. (2021). Slogans and organizing show the anti-vaxx movement is bleeding into protests demanding oregon reopen. Willamette Week, Web.
Teng, Z., Wei, Z., Qiu, Y., Tan, Y., Chen, J., Tang, H., Wu, H., Wu, R., & Huang, J. (2020). Psychological status and fatigue of frontline staff two months after the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak in China: A cross-sectional study. Journal of Affective Disorders, 275, 247-252.