Tennis star Novak Djokovic famously (or, depending on your perspective, infamously) refused to get vaccinated against Covid-19 as a condition for entering Australia to play in the Australian Open.
I have seen the argument “You didn’t oppose HepA vaccine mandates in the past, so why are you so upset about mandating the Covid vaccine?” It’s a fair point, and my unsatisfactory answer is that, while they made me uneasy, I kept my mouth shut because everyone seemed to be going along with it. How harmful is a mandate that no one minds obeying? It would have seemed quixotic to take a principled stand against a mandate that almost no one minded (and the few objectors could usually get exempted from in one way or another). The holdouts weren’t going to hurt my kids because we were up to date on our vaccines. And I didn’t give it much more thought than that.
He, of course, goes on in his email to offer some excellent reasons to oppose mandated vaccination against Covid.
Let me here offer some additional reasons.
And looming especially large for me are three other telling realities of the past two years.
Second, most governments and prominent advisors push for vaccination as if Covid’s consequences don’t have a very distinct age profile. I can well understand why vaccine hesitancy rises when the public encounters high-profile officials and advisors who press for vaccination as if Covid is as dangerous to fifteen-year-olds as it is to seventy-five year olds. Because of this unscientific refusal to acknowledge Covid’s distinct age profile, why should advice about vaccines issued by people who refuse to acknowledge this age profile be treated as being scientific?
Yet since Covid-19 arrived, the public has witnessed unusually speedy development and approval of a vaccine to combat a novel coronavirus. While I’ve long believed that market forces and tort law are sufficient to keep pharmaceutical companies honest and responsive—meaning, there’s no need for an FDA—my view has also long been derided as reckless. Although my own research (such as it is) assures me that the Moderna vaccine that I received is likely of net value to me (a 63-year-old), I cannot criticize the many people who, having observed the unprecedented speed of the vaccines’ development and approval, worry that these medicines are not sufficiently safe to inject into their and their children’s bodies.
Universal vaccination against Covid is today insisted upon with the same fervor that religious zealots centuries ago exhibited when insisting upon the truths of their particular dogmas. Sensible people naturally are highly suspicious of such dogmatism and will resist becoming its victims.
If governments and public-health officials are looking for people to blame for vaccine hesitancy, they need only look in the mirror.