How should society treat people who may be vaccinated against the coronavirus, but refuse to do so? Since December 8, the Singaporean government has charged Covid patients who choose not to be vaccinated the full cost of their own treatment – an approach some have endorsed in the UK.
I think in many ways vaccines are a bad place to start. Although the various vaccines have received regulatory approval and been declared safe, and carry a much, much lower risk than actually contracting Covid-19, they are very new. I think people who refuse to get vaccinated have seriously misjudged the risk they are taking – but they are not wrong that there is Following of a risk with a vaccine against the coronavirus than with a much older vaccine, which would have much more substantial evidence of its long-term effects.
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People who refuse to be vaccinated because they have absorbed one or more conspiracy theories do not have a misunderstanding of the risk, they believe something that is not true. However, neither “believing in something that is not true” nor “having a misunderstanding of the risk” are offenses that should carry the death penalty: which for many people would be essentially being asked. to pay for their own medical treatment.
Given the novelty of Covid vaccines, a better place to start – on the grounds that you should always test an argument against your strongest opponent – is a vaccine that has been in use for a long time, and where we can make confident predictions about the long-term benefits of getting this vaccine: the tuberculosis vaccine, for example, which is offered free to babies and children in most major cities in the UK, or the MMR vaccination (mumps, measles and rubella) ), which is available to everyone in the countryside.
We can say with almost close to 100% certainty that these are safe and reliable vaccines with insignificant risks of side effects compared to the risks of catching tuberculosis or mumps, measles. Where rubella. If you refuse these vaccines for yourself or your children, your understanding of the risk is many worse than that of someone refusing a coronavirus vaccine, and your exposure to conspiracy theories is likely even greater. But these are still not transgressions that should result in a death sentence.
The reality is that most of us will eventually need medical attention due to poor decision-making: whether it’s a fondness for salted butter, unprotected sex, or not. not look both ways before crossing the road. And these shouldn’t be mistakes for which the rich are more lightly punished than the poor.
This is surely the most dangerous part of the argument that people who do not get the coronavirus vaccine should pay for their own treatment: we are ultimately saying that bad decisions should come at a greater cost to the poor than for the rich. There are many ways and areas in which this is already true, but we should aim to reduce them, not add them.
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