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ss triple helix - Autumn 2021,  Vaccine tyranny?  Covid vaccine controversies rage on

Vaccine tyranny? Covid vaccine controversies rage on

Review by Jennie PollockCMF Head of Public Policy

At the time of writing, Westminster has just dropped its 'vaccination passport' plans for crowded venues in England, [1] but has rolled out a voluntary vaccination programme for twelve to 15-year-olds. [2] Meanwhile, vaccine passports will be introduced in Scotland from 1 October, [3] and Westminster's ruling that all care home workers must be fully vaccinated by 11 November is still in place. Workers who are not exempt needed to have their first dose by 16 September to be fully protected in time. [4]

In addition to these statutory plans, some universities, airlines and businesses are starting to make vaccination a condition for education, employment and social interaction. [5]While many of those at greatest risk from the coronavirus remain, understandably, anxious about restrictions easing even as hospital admissions continue to rise, [6] others are urging governments to help us move to a phase of learning to live with the virus responsibly.

In a culture that sets a high value on personal autonomy, it was heartening to see how readily we obeyed the 'Stay home' mandate in March 2020. However, there is a growing sense that the Government is now overstepping the boundaries of what is reasonable and necessary for the protection of the public. Concerning the vaccine rollout for children, for example, the risk vs reward data remains unclear, [7] and many are concerned that we are putting our children at risk for the sake of adults. [8] The fact that children deemed 'Gillick competent' can overrule their parents' decision on the vaccine [9] has also raised concerns. [10]

Fear, mistrust and an overload of complex information make it very hard for anyone to see the intricacies of the vaccine debate clearly, and the harder the Government pushes, the more entrenched resistance is likely to become. Meanwhile, across the world, millions are still waiting for access to the vaccine, while the UK and US are throwing away hundreds of thousands of expired doses. [11] With the autumn booster jab programme already starting, [12] Covid vaccines look set to be a contentious issue for quite some time.

references (accessed 15/9/2021)
1. Eccles M and Honeycombe-Foster M. England scraps vaccine passport plan. Politico 12 September 2021.
2. Triggle N and Roxby P. Covid: Single jab recommended for 12 to 15-year-olds by UK's top doctors. BBC News 13 September 2021.
3. Scotland to launch vaccine passports on 1 October. BBC News 10 September 2021.
4. Swerling G. Care workers launch legal action against Government's 'no jab, no job' policy. The Telegraph 13 September 2021.
5. Wong F. Vaccine passports - a 21st-century 'apartheid'? CMF Blogs. 10 September 2021.
6. Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the UK.
7. Department of Health and Social Care. JCVI statement on COVID-19 vaccination of children and young people aged 12 to 17 years. 4 August 2021.
8. Giubilini A. The double ethical mistake of vaccinating children against COVID-19. Practical Ethics 13 September 2021.
9. Ferguson E. Can 12 to 15-year-olds get the Covid vaccine without a parent's consent? How children's jab roll-out will work. i News 14 September 2021.
10. Greenall J. Who's the boss? Vaccinating our children. CMF Blogs. 14 September 2021.
11. Mahase E. Covid-19: Countries dump vaccines as demand slumps and sharing proves difficult. BMJ, 2021;374:n1893
12. Covid booster vaccine rollout to begin across UK next week. BBC News. 14 September 2021.
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