Silence all you vaccine conspiracy theorists... It's the right thing to do
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There’s a red alert in March of my 2021 diary. COVID VACCINATION.
Of course, it’s not a confirmed date, but I’m trusting the boss of AstraZeneca who declared this week that Britain is 'comfortably' on target to vaccinate all over-50s by March and 30 million people in weeks.
Trust and hope are all we have as we move into February desperately looking for something to focus on ahead, signalling better days.
There’s very little between now and March in my diary apart from work virtual meetings, a friend’s birthday, my home energy deal renewal and this weekend’s tax return deadline, so that red alert is a beacon of hope.
No one ‘likes’ vaccinations. Few people relish the jab of a needle into their arm, and genuine adult needle phobics - trypanophobics – are as common as rocking horse droppings, so I wish people would stop going on about how they “hate” injections so might not “bother” having the jab.
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Others go on about how they don’t trust something made so quickly. How do we know ‘what’s in it?’
We’ve all seen the jokes doing the rounds about people living on a diet of hot dogs and chicken nuggets refusing the vaccination suspicious about its contents, and former drug users saying how wary they are of what the vaccine phial contains.
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Conspiracy theories abound about Covid being a sinister invention to bring us all under control, hoodwinking us into having a microchip slipped into our arms with the vaccine to spy on us.
Part of me is fascinated by these protagonists’ absolute inability to read the room, their self-absorption and self-belief that they know better than any expert.
The other parts of me want to shake them – if I could go within two metres – and tell them to wake up to the pandemic, our incarceration, the real effect on people’s mental and physical health from lockdown, our melting economy, and the 100,000 families who have lost loved ones to the disease in just 10 months.
Back in 1998, I was just as indignant as them, and a vaccine refusenik, appearing on the ITV series Bringing Up Baby as a sofa guest discussing why I was delaying giving the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine to my son, then one, in fear of its links with autism.
A nervous first-time parent, I fell hook, line and sinker for old-Etonian and since-outed fraudster Dr Andrew Wakefield’s link between the MMR vaccine and autism.
Why would I risk my boy’s health when such a learned physician and academic linked the two, offering examples of poor children who had stopped speaking and retreated into their own worlds after the injection.
It was all over the Lancet and whipped up such a stir among parents, many of us decided to delay the injection.
I kept an open mind, read a lot and eventually, many months, had my son vaccinated and his younger brother when his time came, long before Wakefield's fraud was revealed.
My point is that I’m embarrassed that I was so against a vaccine – publicly and loudly - long proved to be for the greater good and part of a vaccine programme that has mostly eradicated previously deadly children’s diseases. I was putting my son, and unvaccinated younger children at risk.
Faced with today’s vaccine decision, it feels a very simple choice. It’s about doing the right thing.
The right thing is to have the vaccine.
The UK yearns to be top of the league for something. Now it’s made it. More deaths per capita than anywhere else in the word because of the decisions made, or not made, dithering, delaying and our national reaction to lockdown.
Alongside that shame, is huge pride in the scientists that have made this great outcome happen so quickly. Those people must be in the honours list the next time the gongs are given out.
And also pride in those who stepped forward to take part in the vaccine trials. Back in the spring, my close friend was worried sick when her son volunteered for the Oxford vaccine trial. A mother’s worry tinged with admiration for her fit and healthy 30-year-old taking an altruistic view to be part of something ground-breaking.
Employers are now saying they want the vaccination as a condition of employment. That can never happen because of human rights and some health conditions that make people exempt from the jab.
No one should be forced to have it, apart from workers in care settings. It is voluntary programme for all the civil liberties and public health reasons.
As an individual choice, everyone has a responsibility to act for the greater good and a better future after the hell of the last 10 months.
Because Covid-19 vaccines were rushed doesn’t mean they haven't been properly vetted or that their safety is in question
The vaccines prevent the development of serious illness, but not proved to prevent than transmission of infection yet.
So, when your letter comes, I hope you’ll see it as a gift and privilege, and one more step to a Monopoly-style Get Out of Jail Free card for us all.