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Opinion

Vaccine passports are dangerous and discriminatory – we must oppose them now

The government is treading dangerously along the path of compulsory COVID-19 vaccinations in all but name – we must make our voices heard if it is to be stopped.

You might need a vaccination to go abroad, they said a couple of months ago. Then they said it might be necessary to attend large-scale gatherings, such as football matches or concerts. Now, you might need a COVID-19 vaccination to go to the pub. What might it be next? To obtain employment or God forbid, leave your home?

Though it may seem totally unfeasible that the government would mandate a ‘Stay At Home’ order solely for those who have refused vaccination, this is essentially what they would be doing by mandating vaccination in order to get back to the things we love.

And in doing so, the government would, effectively, be breaking the law – the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 specifically states that members of the public should not be compelled to undergo any mandatory medical treatment, including vaccinations.

Given what this nation, and this world, has endured for the last 12 months, would the sustained removal of one’s freedom not constitute compulsion? Ultimately, government powers would be coercing individuals into acting in a certain manner – removing one’s freedoms and changing the conditions upon which they are returned.

It could even be said that it would represent a violation of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which grants an individual the right of respect for one’s ‘private life’.

Now, the ECHR also states an important exception: when it comes to the protection of public health. However, we have been repeatedly told by a whole raft of experts that a so-called ‘COVID-zero’ policy is not an option and that we would have to live with the virus once we have achieved herd immunity.

Given the policy of herd immunity [through vaccination], and what it offers, alongside the realistic acceptance that more lives will inevitably be lost due to COVID-19, the government cannot justifiably claim they are protecting public health by mandating vaccinations.

In fact, you could argue that they would be making it worse. The mental health implications would be huge – not only would a whole manner of individuals feel ostracised by their personal choice to refuse a vaccine but for many, merely knowing that they had no choice but to get a vaccine would have devastating consequences for one’s perception of freedom.

The results would not only be devastating for individuals but for our entire society. What we would be left with is an increasingly two-tiered society, one that not only creates new forms of discrimination but encourages and exacerbates existing ones.

It is well documented that there is a relative increase when it comes to vaccine hesitancy within ethnic-minority communities – though we absolutely need to communicate with such communities to encourage take-up, compelling vaccination through passports whilst aware of this existing discrepancy would ultimately represent a very real and damaging form of state-inflicted racial discrimination, which would inevitably spill over into the rest of society.

The government needs to stop treading along this path and really embrace what it means to live with the virus: vaccine passports would not represent living with COVID-19, it would mean changing the way we live because of it, and not for the better.

Categories
Opinion

My experience with the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

Two days ago, I had my first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. This morning, I woke up with crocodile skin, a third leg and visions of Bill Gates tickling my feet at the end of my bed.

Right, now the anti-vaxxers are hooked, let’s get started.

I qualified for inoculation on the basis of my Type 1 Diabetes, which puts me in group six based on the JCVI’s recommended prioritisation for COVID-19 vaccination.

It was quite a nerve-wracking experience and initially, I am not really sure why – every year, I get the flu vaccine without problems, and I have had several other vaccines too.

After all, it is a totally new vaccine, the clinical trials for which ended just months ago. That is not to say that I, a meagre 21-year old politics student, is in any position to doubt the science – nonetheless, any slight apprehension is a natural human reaction.

No matter how ridiculous some of the theories out there are, as you wait in line, seconds away from being jabbed, you can’t help but think of what the maniacs pedal on social media.

“Shit, what if Bill Gates actually will be able to track me after this?”; “I am definitely going to have an anaphylactic shock” were some of the ones playing over in my head as I waited in line.

I quickly reminded myself that Bill Gates already tracks me and that I have never had an anaphylactic shock and went to get my jab.

The overall booking system was very slick – being in group six, I had to wait for my GP to contact me, rather than vice versa, which was initially frustrating.

Soon enough, though, I was contacted. Immediately, I began to run around my flat like Anton from Love Island screaming ‘I’ve got a text!!!!!!!!!’, whilst hoping that the vaccine wouldn’t give me a wandering eye.

I received my text on the Wednesday at 12pm and I was booked in for Saturday at 9am.

When I showed up at the vaccination centre, there was a queue of around 30 or 40 people, which moved very quickly. Two men were arguing in the queue, with one screaming ‘all you have done since I have been speaking to you, sir, is complain – there are thousands dead who would love to be in your position’.

God, I thought, it’s not even 9am on a Saturday, please leave it out. Why do us Britons love to argue?

Anyway, I was inside within 20 minutes. A helpful clerk inside informed me that my particular GP surgery [in Coventry] had been inoculating patients for around seven weeks, with just five GPs, and that they had carried out over 10,000 vaccinations already – that’s nearly 285 per doctor per week – impressive to say the least.

Then the doctor called my name. I went straight in and was asked some brief screening questions about allergies, medications and clarifying on what basis I was there. He explained some of the potential side effects and ten seconds later I had been jabbed.

And just like that, I had been given protection against COVID-19. I left the surgery and waited in the car for fifteen minutes [you can’t drive immediately after inoculation] and waited for my inevitable anaphylactic shock – to my avail, it never came. Happy days.

It was a good nine or ten hours before I started to experience any side effects and even then it was just a sore arm and some fatigue.

The fatigue eventually intensified, which was followed by about one or two hours of chills, and a horrible headache. By the morning, though, the majority had passed and for the rest of the day, it felt like a mild hangover.

Two days on, all side effects are gone, bar my sore arm. No facial drooping, no microchip – no seriously, I feel completely fine and it is a relief to have some protection against COVID-19, even if it takes several weeks and a further second dose for full protection.

The NHS is doing an incredible job at rolling out this vaccine, as well as the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine – if and when you are called up, I absolutely would recommend that you take the opportunity. The science shows it’s safe, it will protect you and others from illness, so why not?