By Joshua Hurn
In a truly free and just democracy, nobody should have their basic freedoms denied by choosing to not have a vaccine. The fact that some of the world’s most powerful democracies are beginning to seal unvaccinated citizens in their homes for such a choice is, in my opinion, truly terrifying.
Nothing can justify nor explain the choice made by Germany, and other European states, to bar all their residents from normal life for refusing a Covid-19 vaccination. Germany, a country where nearly 70% of the population are fully vaccinated against the virus, has taken the once unthinkable step of creating a hierarchy of rights and freedom based upon vaccination status.
Apart from being a blatant disregard for the human rights of its citizens to make free choices about their own health, this ruling is a disgraceful attempt at coercing the remaining 30% of Germans to be vaccinated, by cutting them off from normal life.
Such measures are a disturbing overreach of power by the state in a democratic country. The prospect of locking down solely the unvaccinated would’ve been unthinkable a year ago, as would the abominable choice of many countries to mandate forced Covid-19 vaccinations in their countries.
There should be absolute limits to the power of the state. No politician has the right to force any citizen on how to live their lives in free societies. The European public has relinquished many of their basic freedoms for the past two years. We were told that vaccinations were the tickets to gaining our freedoms back. Nobody said this would be forced, and the goal posts for returning to our ‘normal’ lives keep moving every week. We must never automatically lockdown the unvaccinated, nor continue to breakdown normal society for variant after variant, wave after wave. Covid-19 is here to stay and we should have learned to live with it freely now, vaccinated or not. It is not the duty of the state to make this decision for the public on their own health.
It is without a doubt that vaccines reduce the risk of catching Covid-19 and of course, we must stress the effectiveness of the vaccines, particularly to those at risk. However, such extreme measures only risk alienating unvaccinated people even more, and fuelling anti-government mistrust and anti-vaccine conspiracies. People are no more likely to trust a vaccination, nor the government, if their choice not to take it means they are confined to their homes.
In Germany and the UK, the victims of such measures would be overwhelmingly from ethnic minority backgrounds and young people. Under 30s are the least vaccinated age group in the UK, but also very unlikely to become seriously ill or die of the virus. If the vaccines are working at preventing death in the most vulnerable groups, then why should thousands of young people face the prospect of again locking down for a virus which is less likely to kill them than a car accident? It makes no sense to suggest this policy.
Data has shown that co-morbidities vastly increase the risk of death in people. Particularly, obesity is one of the most common conditions associated with hospitalisation. A whopping 78% of COVID patients who have died or were hospitalised for the virus were overweight or obese in the USA. What do we propose next? Lockdown everybody overweight? This would certainly lead to fewer deaths than locking down the unvaccinated but would never even be considered as suitable policy.
As someone who is fully vaccinated, I would never judge someone who is unvaccinated by choice. It is not the job of governments, to judge who we can consider deserving of freedom based on vaccination status. We provide universal healthcare to everybody, no matter their condition, no matter their life choices. If somebody is willing to take the risk of becoming seriously ill from the virus by refusing the vaccine, then so be it, it is their choice to make. Would we suggest refusing the care of a drug addict who has recently just overdosed?
The path countries like Germany have chosen is dangerous and authoritarian beyond belief. Vaccinations for this virus must always remain a choice, and not be used by governments to impose yet more restrictions on the public’s daily lives. Nobody should support such extreme measures as this, not now, not ever.
Image: Jordan Bracco via Unsplash