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Not Going To

Alan Smith
Negotiation Vaccine

Don’t want to!!!

Light at the end of the tunnel?

Hope so, and not a train coming the other way.

The revelation in the last few days about the success of not just one, but three vaccines against COVID is fantastic news for all of us. Seems that vaccines are a bit like buses, particularly when there is little else to do but look for them, and the profit motive driving the businesses considering them has created a laser-like focus. Cynical? Me? Not at all. If you want something to happen just give people a real interest to drive their behaviour. Altruism fuelled by cash is a pungent mix. 

You would have thought that everyone would have agreed. But no. Some people, anti-vaxxers as they are called are against vaccines in any guise.

Public attitudes towards vaccination can be split broadly into three categories. First, there are people who have been persuaded of the merits of vaccination. In the UK, this group constitutes somewhere between 70% and 90% of the population. Second, there are dogmatic anti-vaxxers. “These are people on the fringes”, explains Vis Viswanath, Professor of Health Communication in the Department of Social and Behavioural Sciences at Harvard. “They are not going to change their views.” Between the two groups lies a third comprising people who are undecided. “These people have legitimate questions”, said Viswanath. “They want to do the right thing, but they have doubts. This is where we need to be focusing our attention.”

Anti-vaxxers make a small but significant group of loud people who are against all kinds of vaccine, not just COVID. They persist with a series of arguments for which there is no scientific evidence but that generate hesitancy among an alarming number of people who, due to the success of vaccination itself, have forgotten that not so long ago many were dying from diseases such as diphtheria, polio or measles.

So, what does society do to encourage their interest in taking vaccines, and not allowing them to freeload on those that do decide to do the right thing and try to beat this virus? (My views are clearly my own and are not intended to represent that of my colleagues as a whole, but I suspect they do). 

I put these points to my daughter who is training to be a GP. She said whilst committed anti-vaxxers display a sort of religious zealotry that makes attempts at dialogue deeply frustrating, there is no reason to dismiss the concerns of people who worry about them. Putting pressure on people, shaming them or forcing them to do something that they are scared of is not a good idea. Most people are reasonable: give them the data and they are only too pleased that they have access to life-saving vaccinations. Very judicious and persuasive.

I’m not sure. But I do know if you don’t have something the other side wants or would rather avoid, getting them to do anything is pretty tough.

I have heard that globally some governments have considered a number of sanctions against those who decide not to take the vaccine. Not letting them into pubs, gyms or public places. Not allowing their children into school. Despite the logistic problems intrinsic in setting up health Passports. 

I’d rather incentivise, but if that doesn’t work, what option do you have.


Alan Smith
More by Alan Smith:
Would You Risk It?
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