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How much more of me is there to boost?

Hearing Novak Djokovic’s troubles on entering Australia, I was jumping for joy. He’d always come across as selfish and entitled on tour, and to see this finally catch up with him felt nothing short of justice. However, as time went on, and the world began to turn on arguably the greatest tennis player of all time, the emotion I least expected to arise hit me at full strength: sympathy. Freedom of choice is essential to life in that ultimately it is all we have. Djokovic has every right to not take the Covid vaccine, but the Australian Government also has the right to prevent unvaccinated people from entering the country (unless they have a valid medical exemption). But my sympathy for Djokovic stemmed from his treatment: being left blue-balled with the prospect of competing for his lucrative 21st Grand Slam title, to then be deported the day before the tournament began.

A similar contentious issue is the concept of a vaccine passport. A recently popular analogy links vaccinations with seat belts. We’re all familiar with seat belts, and you seldom come across someone staunchly opposed to wearing one. The evidence is clear and there is little contention over the topic. However, I feel mandatory vaccinations aren’t as crystal clear. The current vaccines have shown small but non-zero rates of potentially severe side effects including myocarditis, especially in younger people. Furthermore, past vaccine campaigns were often to eradicate a disease.

Covid-19 on the other hand mutates constantly, and we’ve had enough variants so far to educate the population on the Greek alphabet. With each mutation, the effectiveness of the vaccine will likely decrease. As such, what started as a two jab ticket to freedom could become an infinitely long line of boosters. This is no way for society to progress.

This brings up a larger point, to what extent can Governments decide what can and cannot be in our bodies. Only last month, police in London randomly tested members of the public for drug intoxication, something even non-drug users would see as overstepping authority. This brings us back to the vaccine passport, simultaneously the greatest creation and failure of this pandemic. When the Government told us to take 2 jabs in exchange for ‘freedom’, we expected that to be it. But to then tell us that our 2 jabs are practically worthless without a booster is nothing short of a complete violation of trust. This dynamic could go on indefinitely: when would 3 jabs become insufficient, when would the 4th? England have made a good start in scrapping vaccine passports and Scotland must follow suit: they’re illiberal, illogical, and downright pointless. The impact of vaccinations on rates of transmission is marginal in comparison to the option of providing a negative test result, which seldom discriminates.

Since this virus will continue to mutate and vaccines won’t be able to eradicate it, we must move to treating it as an endemic disease: prioritise vaccinations for at-risk groups yearly, but allow the general population to move on with their life, uninhibited by a vaccine passport. Encourage vaccinations, but leave people the choice to make their own decision, as with the flu jab: as soon as you begin to discriminate, you inspire more people to take a stand against it.

By Milad Sherzad

Senior Writer