In February 2020, when the word “coronavirus” still seemed like it would have only a passing place in our vocabulary, we were ready to weather a temporary pandemic.
We understood adjustments would need to be made, and some of us might even have welcomed the opportunity to slow down a little (at least, those of us whose living wasn’t reliant on freedom of movement).
But now, as almost two years have been swallowed by stop-start lockdowns, a ban on international travel, and businesses trying desperately to stay the course with all the uncertainty, our patience is understandably wearing thin.
And yet, even though there’s an obvious pathway out of the pandemic through vaccinations, politics and anti-vax noise is stalling our recovery.
At a certain point (and I would argue that point is now), science has to prevail over opinion.
Yes, everyone is entitled to their bodily autonomy, but there are also consequences for the choices we make, and I think if you choose not to be vaccinated, you can also choose to stay at home, not participate in community events, and wear the outcomes of your decision.
The fact is that our lives are ticking by while we humour people who, despite the overwhelming science about the efficacy and safety of the vaccines available to us, still don’t want to get the jab. And that’s fine – people can make that choice for themselves, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us should languish in pandemic purgatory on their account.
I think of family members and friends who are ageing, desperate to be able to enjoy the travel and leisure they were promised as the reward for 50 years of working hard and contributing to our economy, who are now facing the fact that their age might get them before they get to fulfil the items on their bucket lists.
And of the kids who are experiencing a muted version of childhood, with all or more than half of their lives having been lived through the pandemic. Don’t they deserve to have their lives back, as much as anti-vaxxers deserve to make choices for their bodies?
Coming from a developing country, I have always felt very grateful for modern medicine that has quite literally saved my life – I was born with severe asthma, which doctors predicted would kill me at infancy, but moving to Australia and accessing our professional, accountable, and regulated healthcare system helped me overcome this illness and live a healthy life.
I trust experts because I know the extent of the checks and balances in place across our global medical and pharmaceutical systems to ensure the safety of vaccinations before they are rolled out, and we’ve heard from numerous experts for many months now about the risks and rewards of the COVID vaccines on the market.
We can make informed choices – and if you choose not to get vaccinated, that’s your call – but I don’t want to be punished for the decisions of others. I fully support the notion of a “vaccine passport”, and greater freedoms for people who have been vaccinated.
I want out of this cycle of lockdowns and uncertainty, and I want businesses to recover, kids to be able to go to school, international travel to recommence, and life to just return to normal.
It’s been heartening to see the vaccination rates in Canberra stay so strong – but if you’re not willing to get the jab, that shouldn’t stop the rest of us from reaping the benefits of it.