by Amy Jones
Monday, 19
July 2021
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10:20

The legal mandate for Covid vaccines is a mistake

Our government has chosen compulsion over communication
by Amy Jones
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has criticised vaccine hesitancy. Credit: Getty

It is a decision that would have been unthinkable 18 months ago. Last week, Parliament voted to legally mandate Covid vaccines for those in care homes, meaning that carers who refuse a vaccine are now at risk of losing their jobs. How long did the debate over such a consequential piece of legislation take? 90 minutes. Today, the House of Lords will be voting on the measure.

Many have pointed to the current Hepatitis B vaccine requirements for healthcare workers and the legal mandation of the Smallpox vaccine in 1853 as a reason for why this decision is not as significant as it appears. In other words, there is a precedent. But this is not quite true — the Hepatitis B vaccine is not mandated in law for healthcare workers and it remains a part of guidance and occupational health policies only. As for Smallpox, medical rights have progressed quite a bit since 1853 — do we really need to be going back to the Victorian era to justify 21st century policies?

Indeed, the legal mandate for Covid vaccines is a massive turning point in the state’s relationship to individual healthcare. No other vaccine rollout has been given this much legislative attention, even in previous cases wherein fears over vaccine hesitancy made national news — as was the case with the notorious Wakefield Scandal.

Until now, governments have tended to prioritise individual choice in medical decision making, even if this has meant some risk to collective society. The move towards lockdown-policies at the beginning of the pandemic shows how this traditional framework has been eroded, even taking into account the massive impact Covid has had on our society. The ease with which our individual freedoms have been suspended and complex ethical discussions glossed over is disconcerting.

The question also remains as to whether this sort of legally mandated coercion is actually helpful. Research has suggested that those who feel pressured into getting a vaccination by their employers are less willing to do so. It has long been understood within the medical profession that communication and explanation are far more preferable to paternalism and pressure. However, these tried-and-tested strategies seem to have been totally forgotten when it comes to Covid.

What’s more, considering the increased rates of vaccine hesitancy among BAME groups, this policy risks being divisive and discriminatory. Targeting those reticent to be vaccinated is likely to have the unintended consequence of also targeting minority groups, which could in turn further increase vaccine hesitancy within BAME communities frustrated at racialised discrimination.

Ultimately the Covid response has, once again, favoured coercion over good communication. Why bother to understand someone’s vaccine hesitancy, to reassure and inform them, when you can simply mandate them to take it on fear of losing their job? The care home sector is already overstretched, with staff often under paid and under appreciated. Putting in yet another disincentive to become a care worker may well prove highly damaging to recruitment and retention.

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Francis MacGabhann
Francis MacGabhann
11 months ago

Leftist thinking has colonized absolutely every institution of the west. This is supposedly the CONSERVATIVE Party, remember? We need to throw out every assumption we’ve unconsciously absorbed over the past sixty years and start again at square one, thinking unthinkable thoughts.

Malcolm Ripley
Malcolm Ripley
11 months ago

I would argue it is not leftist thinking but “superiority” thinking. Those who believe they are superior either by birth, wealth or education telling the rest of us how to run our lives. It is just numbers that gives this a “leftist” appearance. There is a link between all these though and that is control. Leftist state extreme control methods work perfectly well for the centralised global capitalists! Have check at the background of the US democrats wanting mandatory control,vaccines etc and where their wealth lies……hmmm. As George Carlin said “It’s a big club and you ain’t in it”. We need to break this global link between power, control and wealth.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
11 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Ripley

No, Liberal had become one with Left. It is the Liberal/Left which is doing all this coercion, banning, de-platforming, and censoring.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
11 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Not a very focused argument when we are talking about the Conservative government here, or for that matter, Orban’s government in Hungary, which has imposed draconian covid measures. The desire for a massive increase in social control certainly includes much of the Left, but is certainly not limited to it. See also the Duterte government in the Philippinesm

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
11 months ago

The National Review posted a great article about this: https://www.nationalreview.com/2021/07/convincing-the-skeptics/
US liberal media is also keen to associate vaccine-hesitancy with far-right thinking, thus linking those who dissent to government mandates as dangerous fringe-thinkers.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
11 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

It was an interesting read, yes. But he missed the biggest point. Masks, vaccinations etc. do not just help yourself individually. It is the kind of thing where everybody is better off if everybody does them. It sounds like people refuse to get vaccinated because 1) they prefer taking the risk themselves to the inconveninence of vaccines, masks etc., which is fair enough, and 2) they refuse to rely on the actions of others. But also because 3) they absolutely refuse to accept even the mildest inconvenience just because it might help someone else. I do not live in the US – you tell me if that sounds like Republican thinking or not?

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
11 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Vaccinations do generally help the individual as well as having a societal benefit.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
11 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

In the US, particularly in rural areas, there is a huge distrust of government, but never more so than of the Biden administration. The fact that the Democrat party runs the government along Critical Theory lines is already a big turn-off to many folks. The thinking behind vaccine hesitancy is very simple: the very people telling citizens to mask up, lock down, and get jabbed were also the same people who seemed blissfully unperturbed about the violence and looting taking place in many of the nation’s cities.
The problem with the vaccination message is not the message itself, but the people peddling it. It’s the equivalent of being told to attend anger management classes by someone who just repeatedly punched you in the face.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
11 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

That actually makes sense – though it does beg the question why the Republican party is *not* telling people they ought to get vaccinated. Here in the UK I think the current opening is is dangerous and irresponsible, not just from looking at the situation, but because of my complete lack of trust in the UK government .

Helen Hughes
Helen Hughes
11 months ago

It is interesting when you look at the statistics for smallpox in the 19th century. They show a wildly varying death rate after the vaccination was mandated in England and Wales in1853, with a general upward trend, including a huge spike in the early 1870s. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1107397/smallpox-death-rate-britain-historical/ This is today blamed on what are now called by the media the “vaccine hesitant” – people who back then were fined or put in prison if they refused to vaccinate their small children. At the same time the mortality trend for other infectious diseases like TB, scarlet fever and diphtheria, for which vaccination were not developed until much later (or in the case of scarlet fever not at all) were steadily declining, the whole time. So are we just going through this all again – is it possible that it is the vaccination itself that is driving a disease that would otherwise naturally be on the way out?

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
11 months ago
Reply to  Helen Hughes

So, on one side we have 150 years of medical and scientific consensus. On the other side we have Helen Hughes and some of her friends. Now all you need to do is convince us all that you are right and they are wrong, and you will get the Nobel prize. It would take quite a lot of evidence to get there, though.

Graff von Frankenheim
Graff von Frankenheim
11 months ago

A bit late no? The carnage in the care homes is behind us; those with elderly parents or loved-ones still in these state run slaughter houses will by now have taken them back in their homes if they had any sense. Given that about 60% of all infections occurred in hospitals, a mandate for vaccinating hospital workers will not be far off. Not that it will make one bit of difference; the vaccinated can still infect others both non-vaccinated and vaccinated. So, in sum, this is mandate is too late and has symbolic value only as the vaccine is only useful in reducing symptoms in the vaccinated if they catch the virus,

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
11 months ago

The vulnerable in those homes need the protection. We are told breakthrough illness is mostly mild. Even Delta appears to not be overtaxing the medical resource. If so, treat Covid-19 like flu.

Edward De Beukelaer
Edward De Beukelaer
11 months ago
Reply to  Hardee Hodges

why not make vaccination of all children mandatory to protect older people: an expert argued for this mentioning that we vaccinate dogs against rabies to protect people…
new times, new values????

Edward De Beukelaer
Edward De Beukelaer
11 months ago

mmmm, 7 people thought I was serious….
but of course good to see they voted negative.

Last edited 11 months ago by Edward De Beukelaer
Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
11 months ago

Next they will want to ban forced sterilizations and lobotomies. Come on – personal rights must be subservient to group rights.

Bruno Lucy
Bruno Lucy
11 months ago

From France
The explanation, coddling, the very slow pace the vaccination took at the beginning, 15 shots q day, precisely, to convince people to be vaccinated led to……..nowhere.
It’s not until Macron finally decided to put his foot down that people realised restaurants, trains…..in short….everything…would be inaccessible to them. The appointments for a jab sky rocketed to almost a million by the end of last Monday evening and the internet platform blipped a few hours. People now lining up in their cars in vaccidromes, Mum, Dad and 3 children handing their arms out of the window. Surreal scene.
When I got vaccinated ahead of my age groupe in early March, no one wanted to touch Astra Zeneca with a pole and doses had to be thrown away. I was only too happy to get the chance.
Sorry, but when a man in his 70’s checks in for a hip problem and is wheeled out in a coffin because he caught COVID in a hospital like it happened here, I say I am all for a little bit of arm twisting especially when the same person wouldn’t think twice about getting the yellow fever shot if it meant a trip to some tropical paradise.
The problem now is that the government speaker is clearly becoming verbally abusive labelling people in an unacceptable fashion. This can’t end well.

Last edited 11 months ago by Bruno Lucy
Deborah B
Deborah B
11 months ago

I’m astounded that people think they are “free”. Every aspect of our lives is narrowly controlled, from wearing seatbelts to paying a TV licence for channels that we don’t want to watch. EastEnders anybody?
The arguments for so called “vaccine hesitancy”, a polite euphemism for selfishness, stupidity or ignorance …or over reliance on dodgy social media for your truth, those arguments are specious. You could liken it to a drowning man (or woman, child, dog) refusing to grasp the hand of a saviour because they were unsure if the saviour had the right political attitudes, or religion or had washed today, or would make them infertile.
The vaccine is a life saver, why are we dignifying those that don’t want their lives saved? It’s not the fault of government or policy makers or commentators or activists that people choose not to be jabbed. But, by loading the levers to make certain folk inconvenienced by not being vaccinated (the ones whose lives are worthless without nightclub visits) at least vaccine uptake may be improved.
I can’t understand the thinking process of antivaxxers or hesitants, but there has to be jeopardy and consequences.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
11 months ago
Reply to  Deborah B

Apart from reading about it in the mainstream media, I have encountered zero evidence that there is a pandemic going on.

Chris Bredge
Chris Bredge
11 months ago
Reply to  Deborah B

Agreed. The article implies that the government has moved straight from vaccines being completely voluntary to mandated in one step but this isn’t true. They have sought to understand and persuade those people who are hesitant over many months now but some have still resisted. Many deaths occurred in care homes last year specifically due to the staff and other peripatetic workers bringing the virus with them. By allowing this “choice” to continue, the government would be derelict in its duty to protect the most vulnerable in society, including the 5% or so of frail elderly people who will not have protection from the jabs they were given.
It’s really important for us all to get on with our lives now as normally as possible and this will be made a lot easier if the take up rate amongst the formerly hesitant increases significantly.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
11 months ago
Reply to  Chris Bredge

If the issue is that care workers are bringing COVID into nursing homes there really is a very simple solution that would be both effective and wouldn’t require vaccination.
(1) Careworkers should be instructed that if they exhibit the most minimal symptoms of an upper respiratory tract infection (maybe slightly runny nose, slight cough or sore throat or any other prodromal symptoms) they should not come to work and take medical leave. (2) Careworkers should be tested for COVID perhaps even as many times as twice a week.
Recall there are now plenty of examples of doubly vaccinated individuals who have gone on to test positive for COVID (including the health minister), and therefore such individuals can presumably transmit COVID to susceptible patients within nursing homes.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
11 months ago
Reply to  Deborah B

Actually one has to be a bit careful regarding COVID vaccination. The vaccines appear to be relatively safe for the group (the old) most at risk of death from COVID. But the risks of untoward effects from the vaccine, including death or lifelong disability (and that can certainly be the outcome of an episode of myocarditis) increases as the age of the recipient decreases. i.e. those least at risk of bad outcomes from COVID are most at risk of bad outcomes from the vaccines.
Yes, the vaccine can be a life saver. But it can also result in death. The number of deaths reported for the current crop of vaccines and the number of very serious side effects vastly exceeds that of all other vaccines combined for the last 10 years (as per the VAERS database in the US and yellow book database in the UK).
Given that the vast majority of those most at risk of COVID have already been doubly vaccinated, isn’t it time that we relaxed a little about the vaccine and let other younger individuals make their own choices.