Getting vaccinated is now officially a Moral Issue rather than a medical one.
In most countries, there are really only two things governments can do: Impose safe-distancing measures, and vaccinate the population.
The former is fraught with political peril. Nobody wants it. Everybody hates it. There are economic and social consequences. And really, even in the most compliant and supportive populations, there will only be partial adherence to any measures.
Vaccination however is something else. You either have had it, or you haven’t. Two weeks have passed, or it hasn’t. You are Fully Vaccinated, or you are not.
This is something the authorities can measure and control and is now something that they have no choice but to cling on to for dear life. And I don’t blame them.
As a parent, I go through the same thing. I am loath for my children to suffer, come to harm or fail in life. I am even averse to the idea of this happening because of something I did or failed to do myself.
I can’t guarantee their financial security but I can splash out on tuition lessons, enrichment classes, and exam training courses so that… they succeed? Perhaps. More so that if they fail, I can confidently say it was not for lack of effort on my part.
I think governments are in a similar position. When Covid broke out, nobody really knew what to do. In which case, the next priority was to be seen to be doing the right thing. So that it all hell breaks loose, one can say – well I tried. It wasn’t me.
So when vaccination became available, it was the one and only thing any government could use as a measure for their efforts to deal with Covid.
Cue – removal of obstacles so as to get vaccination rates up such as making it free. When people were hesitant, governments got twitchy and worried. Cue – strong social drive to guilt-trip people into get it done.
Do it for your elderly mother if not for yourself.
I mean, I did agree with the “social responsibility to get vaccinated” bit (past tense deliberate), but it is still emotional blackmail.
Still hesitation and numbers not quite as shining as preferred.
Now the screw started turning. Only vaccinated people get to: Socialise in groups, eat out together, go to malls and cinemas or something like that. Ostensibly this was for the protection of the poor souls who were still unvaccinated. To keep them safe.
No, this is not forcing anyone. We are just trying to protect you.
I do this all the time with my kids. Think: No dessert unless you finish your dinner. No screen time unless you finish your homework. I’m not forcing you (e.g. by threatening a caning if there is non-compliance) but this is for your own good.
Then Delta came along and changed everything. For all practical purposes, the vaccines don’t stop its spread. It does significantly reduce the severity of Covid when one gets it. But it hardly stops you from getting it, nor stops you passing it on to loved ones should you be contagious.
Vaccines are now more like a personal shield. Inoculation of an antidote before you have to taste poison. A really good idea if poison is all around and it’s only a matter of time before you have to face it. But no longer a matter of social responsibility.
But, just as parents of highly stressed and pressurised children find it hard to stop the extra tuition lessons, governments will find it hard to let go of vaccination as the ultimate measure of their handling of the pandemic. Because if they do, there is really nothing else they can do.
Nothing highlights this more where now specific provisions have been made for the few people who are medically ineligible to get vaccinated. Vaccination is now not just moral, it’s practically religious.
If you are certified to be unable to take the vaccine, then you are excused from the restrictions the other
lepers unvaccinated have to comply with. Even though you remain just as unvaccinated, and vulnerable, as they are.
That most of us feel this is appropriate proves the point. We look at the people who cannot step into a mall and say, “Serves them right.” We look at those who want to be vaccinated but are ineligible because of allergies and say, “Poor thing.” And we rejoice when the authorities give them permission to enter the holy places such as malls and cinemas, instead of being horrified that they can now legally place themselves at such risk, and also be a risk to others.
Would we feel the same way if it were Ebola?
That we don’t means we collectively know that the medical risk – as defined by the spread of Covid in the population, is no longer a significant factor. Unfortunate, but we have to accept that.
Unvaccination is now more an individual choice. Like eating really unhealthy food, or not exercising, not sleeping, not taking prescribed and recommended medication as directed. Foolish if you choose it, but that’s up to you, as long as you don’t complain about consequences. And you are free to make that choice, even if it turns out to be the wrong one, because it no longer affects others.
The original moral imperative for vaccination – which I did agree with – is no longer relevant.
Covid has moved on.
Maybe it’s time we did too.