Thursday, 2 December 2021

Mandatory vaccinations

are back in the news with the Greek government saying it will fine those sixty years and older month by month if they fail to get vaccinated. In a neighbouring state here there are people claiming they will resign rather than get vaccinated.

I wish the Greek government luck. I know a lot of Greeks. They are not generally biddable sorts. Maybe the Greeks in Greece will be different but I suspect Mr Mitsotakis will be  "παλεύοντας" (palevontas - struggling).  

I have my friendly local fishmonger to thank for introducing me to that word in Greek yesterday. It is not one I knew before (and probably not one I will remember).  

But I thought about it - and I thought about the age old question of whether people should be given support when they choose not to do the right thing. I don't know what the answer to that is. 

A friend was here yesterday. She once worked for Centrelink but has long since retired. One of her jobs was to provide assistance to people who had just been released from prison. We discussed the issue of how much help someone was given and should be given on release.  It came up because W.... does some voluntary teaching and had a student in one of her classes who has just been sent to prison. It is the women's prison and a sentence of some length. It is going to be very difficult for the woman in question, more difficult than most. She is older, she is what might be termed "middle class", and there are other issues. She will be going into one of the worst possible situations. Yes, her own behaviour has led her there and the law says that is where she should be. However, if W... is correct in her surmise that the thefts came about through a gambling problem then should something have been done about the gambling problem? 

Does society do something about that? Does society allow her to go on gambling even knowing it is possible somebody else's money is being used and that, if caught, someone is going to cost the taxpayer even more? The cost of custody is immense and the outcomes are generally very poor. It is not just the time in prison but what follows afterwards. We don't do well at helping those in that situation.

Is requiring people to be vaccinated so very different from all this? Do we say, "You have the right to choose. If you choose not to get vaccinated you won't suffer any financial or other penalty. It doesn't matter if you get ill. You will still get the same level of care as anyone else. It doesn't matter if you infect those around you who were not able to have the vaccination." Or do we say, "No, in this instance you do not have the right to choose because this is not about you. It is about other people. We have a responsibility to protect the most vulnerable members of society, the people who cannot be vaccinated and the people who become ill because you passed the virus on."

I don't know of anyone who has actually resigned rather than get vaccinated. My doctor-nephew has had his first two jabs as a matter of course. He will have a third one next year. Failing to get vaccinated in his case is unthinkable. He sees it as the only responsible thing to do. W.... and I discussed this too. We asked each other whether someone who resigns rather than get vaccinated when they could should get financial assistance. My gut reaction to that is "No. That is a choice you made. You need to face the consequences." And then of course I think of any family they might have and their need for food and shelter, especially the children. 

The only answer I can think of to all this is that we all need to think more about how our choices will affect other people. 

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