How much longer can we tolerate anti-vaxxers? DAVID MELLOR

How much longer can we tolerate anti-vaxxers clogging up the NHS, asks former health minister DAVID MELLOR

Sadly, the pernicious anti-vaxxer movement is helping sustain Covid-19. It’s filling up hospital beds as the latest month’s figures show that two-thirds of the under-50s admitted with the virus are unvaccinated.

The knock-on effect is that the NHS is constrained from treating others desperately ill with conditions such as cancer.

As important as booster jabs are, the priority is still to reach the millions of supposedly adult citizens who have refused the vaccine.

Undaunted by such stories, anti-vaxxers continue to defy medical advice and common sense

It is believed that half of professional footballers haven’t even had a first jab. Refusing the jab is not merely irrational, it’s taking a chance with your life. A gamble where lives are being lost.

There have been tragic examples – such as a 58-year-old Cambridge-educated lawyer who said he hoped he had got the virus because he’d prefer to have the antibodies in his blood than take the jab.

‘I’d rather take my chances with my immune system,’ he added. He did just that – and died.

Undaunted by such stories, anti-vaxxers continue to defy medical advice and common sense.

This leads again to the question that won’t go away: how much longer can we tolerate seeing the NHS clogged up with people who get Covid really badly because they won’t be vaccinated? Is this just a matter for individual choice? Or are the consequences for society too serious to overlook – particularly with the threat of a return of social restrictions for us all, and perhaps even another lockdown.

I acknowledge, having been a Minister for 11 years, that the options are not easy. It’s tempting to suggest that anti-vaxxers should be denied treatment, or treated only at their own expense. This has been seriously suggested in Australia. But I doubt it would work there and certainly won’t work in the UK.

The choice is stark: a vaccine passport system – or disruption, misery and irreparable damage to millions of lives and to the economy

But a vaccine passport might. Why shouldn’t we ban those who refuse the vaccine from visiting places of entertainment or – as Italy has done – from going to work?

I believe it is no exaggeration to say that what anti-vaxxers are doing could be likened to someone running along a street stabbing passers-by at random.

Unpalatable as many will find it, I am convinced that we must act, otherwise there’s a terrible danger we’ll be saddled with unmanageable Covid outbreaks for as far ahead as we can see.

The choice is stark: a vaccine passport system – or disruption, misery and irreparable damage to millions of lives and to the economy.

Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad. Ask any anti-vaxxer.

A group of them were filmed on Tuesday, howling expletives at Michael Gove, as he walked through Westminster. Why?

For the high crime and misdemeanour of supporting the vaccination of people against Covid-19.

This was undoubtedly a public order offence, yet the police did nothing about the altercation (typical).

It didn’t seem to matter that it happened just a few days after the killing of his colleague Sir David Amess.

Gove was left to take his chances without knowing whether they were merely going to shout at him or, so inflamed by the madness on the internet, that one or more of these people would physically assault him.

Take a look at the kind of rubbish promoted online.

Covid has been designed as a means of controlling the population, we are told.

It was caused by the World Health Organisation acting in consort with Big Pharma and Bill Gates. It’s a side effect of 5G mobile telephone upgrades.

Oh, and by the way, those blue disposable masks have been impregnated with asbestos.

The anti-vaxxer world is full of crazed voices.

Piers Corbyn, for example, seems determined to present himself as more of a loony tune than brother Jeremy.

Here’s the gospel according to Piers: ‘Bill Gates wants vaccinations to control you, and to control women’s fertility to reduce the world population.

‘That’s his game, and he’s going to get loads of money of it. You will pay with your money and your life. We say “No”.’

Meanwhile, he distributes leaflets comparing the UK’s covid vaccine rollout to Auschwitz.

His Indian equivalent, Swami Chakrapani, claims you don’t need a vaccine because applying cow dung to your body will do the trick.

Maybe coronavirus would be better.

Faced with such nonsense, you might reasonably think the best thing to do is laugh and pass by on the other side.

I don’t agree. This is stuff is pernicious. It is helping to sustain Covid-19, to prolong suffering and death.

It’s filling up hospital beds, thereby constraining the health service from treating patients desperately ill with other conditions like cancer – treatment put on hold during the pandemic with often devastating effects.

Let me concentrate the mind with a few statistics.

As many as four out of ten of those hospitalised with Covid-19 are not fully vaccinated.

Pensioners are three times more likely to be admitted to hospital with covid if they are anti-vaxxers.

Initial results suggest that booster jabs are 95 per cent effective. That’s why I’m having mine on Wednesday.

But as Professor Sir Andrew Pollard, the distinguished head of the Oxford vaccine group which created the AstraZeneca jab, points out, however important the boosters will prove, the immediate priority are the millions of supposedly adult citizens who have simply refused to take a life-saving injection.

Too many of whom now occupy beds in intensive care.

In some areas of the country, the take up of the important second vaccine is as low as 50 per cent.

It is thought that half of professional footballers haven’t even had a first jab.

Refusing the vaccine is not merely irrational, it’s taking a chance with your life. A gamble where lives are lost.

Leslie Lawrenson, a 58 year old Cambridge-educated lawyer, blogged: ‘I hope I’ve got it because I’d rather have the antibodies in my blood than take the jab…the potential dangers from taking these experimental jabs weren’t worth the risk. I’d rather take my chances with my immune system.’

Well he did, and he lost. A few days later, his 11 year old son found him dead.

Matthew Keenan was ‘a wholly confirmed vaccine sceptic’, when he fell desperately ill last July. He said if he could turn back time, he would. But he couldn’t.

And this fit football coach and proud dad died needlessly last July aged only 34. What a sad waste.

Throughout history tens of millions have died of diseases that wouldn’t kill them today because of vaccinations.

In a quiet graveyard in Dorset, two infants are buried. My aunt and uncle, who died of diphtheria in the 1920s, when it was the biggest killer of kids. Diphtheria was known as ‘the silent strangler’ because of the awful manner of their death.

Today, most youngsters have never even heard of diphtheria, let alone died from it, because vaccinations finished it off.

There’s a word for some people’s rejection of a life-saving jab, and that word is decadence.

I look back six decades to Geoff Hall, a hero of my childhood. This Birmingham City and England fullback was enjoying a hugely successful career. Then polio killed him.

Wouldn’t he have loved the opportunity to be vaccinated? One sadly didn’t emerge until a few years too late for him.

Thankfully, children today know nothing of polio, either.

As to the anti-vaxxers, we cannot merely switch them off, much as I would like to do so.

A few months ago I was on a tube train when it was invaded by a loud, who started ripping down covid posters, and, having dragged a ghetto blaster into the carriage, began playing anti-vax songs and dancing around.

What did London Underground do? Nothing.

So, again, the question that won’t go away: how much longer can we tolerate seeing the NHS bunged up with people who get covid really badly because they won’t be vaccinated?

Is this just a matter for individual choice? Or are the consequences for society too serious to overlook?

Ask the people not getting proper care for cancer.

Ask the people whose lives have been thrown into chaos by the wider effects of the continuing Covid meltdown.

The court system has ground to a halt. All manner of cases – some say 60,000 – are held up, a lot of them really serious like murders and rapes.

What will be the consequence for justice when finally they are heard, if ever they are, and memories have dimmed?

All those half-empty public offices. The banks that won’t talk to you because everyone’s at home. The schools turned upside down by perpetual closures.

Today we find ourselves looking at the return of restrictions, perhaps even the abyss of another lockdown.

I acknowledge, having been a minister for 11 years, that the options are not easy.

Anti vaccination protesters march through Newcastle warning of the supposed dangers of COVID-19 vaccinations

It’s tempting to suggest that anti-vaxxers should be denied treatment, or treated only at their own expense. It’s been seriously suggested in Australia.

But I doubt it would work there and certainly won’t work here.

But a vaccine passport might. Why shouldn’t we ban those who refuse the vaccine from places of entertainment or – as Italy has done – from going to work?

Forcing the anti-vaxxers to stay at home, it can be argued, is necessary for public protection.

If they wish to exercise their individual choice, then let them do so. But in a way that does not damage you or me or the wider public interest.

What the anti-vaxxers are doing is, in its way, as harmful to society as if they ran along a street stabbing passers-by at random.

Unpalatable as many will find it, I believe we have to act or there’s a terrible danger we’ll be saddled with unmanageable covid outbreaks for as far ahead as we can see.

All that disruption. All that misery. All the damage caused to business and the economy.

I’m not up for that.

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