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Shaming unvaccinated people has to stop. We’ve turned into an angry mob and it’s getting ugly

Written by Alberto Giubilini and Julian Savulescu. Cross-Posted from The Conversation 

Julian Savulescu, University of Oxford and Alberto Giubilini, University of Oxford

Unvaccinated mother, 27, dies with coronavirus as her father calls for fines for people who refuse jab.

This is the kind of headline you may have seen over the past year, an example highlighting public shaming of unvaccinated people who die of COVID-19.

One news outlet compiled a list of “notable anti-vaxxers who have died from COVID-19”.

There’s shaming on social media, too. For instance, a whole Reddit channel is devoted to mocking people who die after refusing the vaccine.

COVID-19 vaccinations save lives and reduce the need for hospitalisation. This is all important public health information.

Telling relatable stories and using emotive language about vaccination sends a message: getting vaccinated is good.

But the problem with the examples above is their tone and the way unvaccinated people are singled out. There’s also a murkier reason behind this shaming.

Why do we shame people?

Public shaming is not new. It is entrenched in human history and psychology. From an evolutionary perspective, shame is a way of keeping individuals accountable to the other members of their community for their perceived anti-social behaviours.

Philosophers Guy Aitchison and Saladin Meckled-Garcia say online public shaming is a way of collectively punishing a person “for having a certain kind of moral character”. This punishment (or “reputational cost”) can be a way of enforcing norms in society.

Man pointing finger, shaming other man, whose head is hung low
Shaming is a way of keeping people accountable for their ‘wrongs’. It also helps us feel better about ourselves.

However, shaming others is also a way of signalling our own virtue and trustworthiness. Moralising about other people’s behaviour can help us feel better about ourselves.

The online world exacerbates this human tendency. It polarises two heavily moralised camps: the self-perceived good, responsible people on one side (the shaming ones), and the ones considered bad, irresponsible people on the other (the shamed ones).

Vaccination has become such a sensitive issue it easily triggers the instinct to shame others.

Do people deserve to be shamed?

Shaming people for their health-related choices disregards the complexities about whether people are individually responsible for their own decisions.

Take obesity, another example associated with public shaming. The extent to which individuals are responsible for their obesity or for the lifestyle that causes obesity is complex. We need to consider issues including genes, environment, wealth, as well as choice. Indeed, shaming people for their obesity (“fat shaming”) is widely considered unacceptable.

Likewise, low levels of vaccine uptake in some communities is often linked to structural inequalities, including health inequality, and a resulting lack of trust. The blame for this situation is typically placed on broader society and institutions, and not on the affected groups or individuals.

If someone cannot be blamed for something, then shaming them is not ethically justifiable.

In discussions of responsibility it is now common to focus on “structural injustice” or “inequality” – the injustice of various social factors that shape choice and behaviour.

This applies not only to obesity, drugs, alcohol but also to vaccination decisions.

Even where this is not the case, there has been a targeted, systematic and even state-sponsored misinformation campaign about vaccines. People who are misinformed are victims, not perpetrators.

Finally, we should remember why medical ethics has designated autonomy and consent as foundational ethical values. Even where there is a clear expected benefit, and only very rare side effects, these won’t be shared equally. Many will have their lives saved. But some people will be the ones who suffer the harms. This a strong reason for respecting people’s decision about what risks to take on themselves.

Barring any public health issue, an individual should make the decisions about health risks, whether they are from the disease or vaccines. Shaming them disregards the complexities of the distribution of risks and benefits, of the way individual values affect individual risk assessment, and of personal circumstances shaping individuals’ views on vaccines.

Granted, public health ethics is a broader area and autonomy does not have the same weight there, because other people’s health interests are at stake.

But when public health issues do arise, it is up to public health authorities to limit autonomy through appropriate and more ethical strategies.

One of us (Savulescu) has previously argued for incentives to vaccinate. Mandatory vaccination (such as imposing fines, or other penalties such as limitations on access to certain spaces) would require a separate ethical discussion, but could also be preferable in certain circumstances.

Shaming is a form of vigilantism

One could plausibly imagine shaming pleases people who are vaccinated – especially the most self-righteous among them. But those who are opposed to vaccines, or who mistrust the government messages, are unlikely to be persuaded and may even be entrenched.

Even if shaming was effective, shaming wouldn’t necessarily be ethically justified. Not everything that is effective at achieving a goal is also ethical. Torture is, generally, not a justifiable way to obtain information, even if that information is credible and life-saving.

Shaming is a form of vigilantism, a mob behaviour. We have moved beyond burning witches or atheists, or lynching wrong-doers. We should stop doing these things also in the metaphorical sense.

We have parliaments and formal mechanisms for limiting behaviour, or incentivising it. We should leave it to these to regulate behaviour, not the media or the mob.The Conversation

Julian Savulescu, Visiting Professor in Biomedical Ethics, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute; Distinguished Visiting Professor in Law, University of Melbourne; Uehiro Chair in Practical Ethics, University of Oxford and Alberto Giubilini, Senior Research Fellow, Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, University of Oxford

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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34 Comment on this post

  1. One simpler reason people engage in public shaming: They are just frustrated with the pandemic. They are sick of masks. Sick of social distancing. Sick of being separated from friends and families. Sick of not being able to go to any number of crowded and enjoyable public spaces. Sick of any and every other societal priority (from education to climate change) being put on the backburner. (In the US there was even a statistic than 1 in 7 adults missed riding their city Light Rail, Metro or Subway “a lot”.)

    These people see vaccines as the most important thing on the road to making life more normal again. And to those who talk about what was wrong with “the old normal”, I would reply that pre-Covid-19 I never heard any social reformer or idealistic argue that to build a better society we needed to become a society of homebodies and half-shut-ins. If anything, they tended to go for a society that was more convivial and more “eyes on the street” than pre-Covid-19 life in the modern Western world. Social distancing has an inherently awkward relationship with public transit and renewable energy, civil society, providing a good education especially to younger kids, and so much more.

    While one can easily argue that shaming might not be a very effective tactic, I believe it more commonly comes from a place of frustration than any virtue signaling.

    When somebody choses not to get vaccinated this is a choice for other citizens not just htemselves. Namely it is a “vote” for more lockdowns, more masks, more school closures.

    1. Even countries with super high levels of vaccination (eg Portugal) are struggling now. Others, like Singapore, with high levels of vaccination have kept strict travel restrictions. There’s strong evidence that vaccinated people who get infected have exactly the same levels of virus. They are only somewhat less likely to get infected. Although they are much less likely to be hospitalised, they still make up the bulk of hospitalisations in highly vaccinated countries. You can’t really say the unvaccinated are causing the problem. They tare not helping as much as they could perhaps, but if everyone got vcaccinated this problem wouldn’t disappear. You might be right that the unvaccinated are being used as a scapegoat but it isn’t a good reason.

    2. I’m unvaccinated and I survived wave 1, wave 2, wave 3, wave 4, wave5. I haven’t had a cold since October 2019. I did not “vote” for more lockdowns, more masks, more school closures, not being able to visit loved ones at seniors homes, banning indoor dining, concerts, closing gyms, movie theatres, and all the rest of the mass hysteria. NO, it was a combination of government overreach, a lack of hospital beds, not enough doctors/nurses, mainstream media spreading fear porn and misinformation, censoring doctors and medical experts who had other viewpoints, censoring the stories of the vaccine injured because that would make people fear the vaccines instead of the COVID virus, not letting doctors decide what early treatments to give COVID patients (only Remdezivir was allowed), MANY DOCTORS DISAGREED and they were all censored from YouTube. Thousands of doctors, medical experts and general public were not allowed to speak freely, because the fact checkers had the power to censor their opinions. That has to change. All sides should be allowed and because so many people were silenced, the unvaccinated became more and more distrustful. Also the flip flopping of Fauci on masks, the CDC flip flopping on the efficacy of natural immunity and the ridiculous rules in restaurants/fast food places that require a mask if you are walking around, but you can take it off when you sit down (as if you’re safe from the virus when you’re sitting down and eating). That’s what they call science?

      1. That’s great, Susan. You’re unvaccinated and you survived. There are more than 5.6 million people dead, more than 865,000 of those in the U.S. alone. What is that supposed to tell us, that you survived? There are about 8 billion people in the world, and most of them “survived wave 1… etc.) So what? It doesn’t prove a single thing or make an argument for any policy whatsoever.

        Where do you get your information since you think “mainstream media” are spreading “disinfofrmation”? From alt-right (neo-fascist) web sites and conspiracy theory blogs? What is your source for your claim that “thousands of doctors” were censored and wanted alternative medical treatments for COVID patients? Maybe they wanted to have people drink bleach? I hear that treatment was popular in the White House until Trump got COVID, then he wanted all the latest medical treatments.

        The unvaccinated did not become more distrustful because “so many people were silenced”. Nobody was “silenced”; everybody has been vigorously exercising their First Ammendment right to shout “FIRE!” in a crowded theater, which is just what you’re doing now.

        1. Thats horrible and ironically the attitude you posess seems to embody everything that the article described. There is so much hatred around it is entirely unreasonable and a pandemic in itself. I am amazed at the selective self righteousness occurring. All the energy hating a tiny percentage of people on the whole is so dissapointing. Imagine as a collective we used that energy regularly for the greater good. I hohonestly can not make sense of how people are behaving currently and is greatly upsetting. A mirror has been held up to people and the reflection shows we are just as unevolved as we have always been.

  2. The reason of shaming is following:

    we determined to fight back against pandemic. But man is not strong enough to change the world. Our will is powerless. Just about this powerlessness we are angry and frustrated. And our frustration turns against unvaccinated.
    Violence is always the consequence when we think that we can plan all the things, when we think that we can reach the aim. No point if the aim is the race clean society (nazis), the society without classes (bolsheviks) or society without unvaccinated.

  3. “Shaming people for their health-related choices disregards the complexities about whether people are individually responsible for their own decisions.

    Take obesity, another example associated with public shaming. The extent to which individuals are responsible for their obesity or for the lifestyle that causes obesity is complex. We need to consider issues including genes, environment, wealth, as well as choice. Indeed, shaming people for their obesity (“fat shaming”) is widely considered unacceptable.

    Likewise, low levels of vaccine uptake in some communities is often linked to structural inequalities, including health inequality, and a resulting lack of trust. The blame for this situation is typically placed on broader society and institutions, and not on the affected groups or individuals.”

    1. The comparison with obesity is inapt. The obesity of others at most affects the social cost of health care. Failure to take the most effective measures to stop the spread of a disease that has killed more than 5 million people so far is not comparable. It could be argued that shaming is never appropriate for any reason whatsoever, but you do not seem to be making that case; rather, your point is about public shaming for health-related issues, which you reject due to the “complexity” of the choices involved. But the complexity of choices involved in what you eat on a daily basis is not comparable to the “complexity” of getting a vaccine, which most people have previously had for numerous other diseases; and the utility of staying slim is not comparable to the utility of minimizing the spread of deadly germs. So I don’t think this argument goes through. The choice is not that “complex” and the benefits are that it is most likely the only way to stop the spread of a deadly illness, with all of its social and economic ramifications.

    2. You attribute a lack of “trust” to inequality, but that is to split up the anti-vax sentiment in a way that is not underpinned by data or logic. There are anti-vax people from every socioeconomic bracket. You are free to surmise that one group doesn’t trust vaccines due to racial or national oppression, another doesn’t trust them due to ethical or emotional issues with government interference in their personal lives, another doesn’t trust them out of general ethical concerns about the power of technology, etc. But the underlying scientific facts are that vaccines like the COVID-19 vaccines are the outcome of decades of medical research involving scientific communities all over the world, they are subjected to rigorous testing, and their risks are known and publicly acknowledged. So whatever the basis of the “mistrust”, it is contrary to science and harmful to the public interest (quite apart from ludicrous conspiracy theories, which completely lack scientific evidence). In short, lack of trust may be something we need to understand, but not to validate as a legitimate reason for not getting vaccinated.

    3. Your argument that there is a risk of reaction for “some” people is quite backwards, in my opinion. The fact that the risks are known, and are minimal, is a reason to insist that everyone get vaccinated unless their personal medical history puts them at much higher risk than others. Otherwise, failure to get the vaccine is like saying, “I am willing to take the risk of endangering myself and others in order to reduce my own extremely small risk of a vaccine reaction to zero.” That is both irrational and socially irresponsible and does not constitute a reasonable objection to getting vaccinated.

    “Public shaming” brings to mind people being paraded through the streets and abused. “Online shaming” is supposed to be a modern version of that. But the online version of it is verbal (or pictorial) and remote, and therefore shades into what can also be called “criticism”. Part of what you seem to be opposed to is the form that criticism takes. But if I say online, “These people were opposed to vaccines and died of COVID-19:…”, the criticism certainly seems to be implied (although it could be interpreted by an anti-Vaxer as praise for their courage), but it does not seem to me to have the form of “shaming”. “Look at these idiots who refused the vaccine and died as a result of their own stubbornness, they got what they deserved” – that’s “shaming”. I’m not sure it would be a helpful tactic, but I’m also not sure we can afford to overlook any non-violent means of persuasion given the gravity of the situation.

    1. 1. There is no complexity in what you eat every day, if you ignore psychological issues as you do here for vaccination
      2. The phenomenon of people becoming addicted to and then killed by prescription painkillers was started by drugs which were released by drug companies as the “outcome of decades of medical research involving scientific communities all over the world,…subjected to rigorous testing, and their risks are known and publicly acknowledged”. Over a million people have been killed this way. I am fully vaccinated and don’t have a particular axe to grind here, but it’s extremely easy to find cases that show that this process is not watertight.

      1. 1. “There is no complexity in what you eat every day…” – do you mean it is not complex whether you go to the refrigerator and get an apple or a can of soda? But that is the end result of an stack of complex social choices which are guided by numerous factors, including: family training and pressures, availability of a variety of food choices, cost of healthy vs. unhealthy foods, peer social pressure, ability to read and assess the content of food labels, susceptibility to deceptive advertising, employment-related food options and needs, and food needs and urges related to other medical conditions. (Diabetics have to measure food consumption in relation to insulin intake, which is more an art than a science and can lead to consumption of calories to avoid hypoglycemic conditions.) These are not “psychological issues”, they are social and medical issues.

        2. Seriously, are you comparing the over-prescription and deceptive marketing of opioids, resulting in a massive and often fatal addiction problem, to the development of life-saving vaccines? I can’t wrap my mind around that argument. What the opioid crisis should be compared to is the hysterical anti-vax conspiracy movement. They at least share the qualities of cynical disregard for the cost in human lives, and being fostered by factual and rhetorical errors. No one said the vaccine development process is “watertight”. You take a scientific approach to determining the risk of the vaccine vs. the risk of not being vaccinated, and the evidence is unequivocal that the benefits vastly outweigh the risks. To wait for something that’s “watertight” is to deny the possibility of scientific progress. It’s like people who insist that evolution is “only a theory” – everything we think we know is “only a theory” in this sense, so we don’t know anything and we might as well all do whatever we want, science be damned. This is just the ticket for the tribe of people demanding “freedom” of various sorts – freedom to get others sick, freedom to carry around assault rifles, freedom to teach religious beliefs as scientific, freedom to burn all the carbon they want… it all comes down to freedom to ignore facts they don’t like and act on ignorance. No one has ever had the freedom to act in a way that demonstrably poses a direct and serious risk to others. When there is a clear scientific consensus that there is a fatal risk in certain human behaviors there is no choice but to accept it. If we hadn’t done that a few years ago we’d now have a widening hole in the ozone layer and the earth would eventually be uninhabitable.

        1. Thanks for the reply:
          1. Yes, I agree, and most likely very similar things apply to those who don’t want the vaccine : family training and pressures, ability to easily get time off to access and deal with any side effects, c peer social pressure, ability to read and assess the content of medical and public advice, susceptibility to deceptive advertising, prior experiences of medicine, prior experience of COVID infection, risk factors such as auto-immune diseases that cause additional concerns, and so on.
          2. The comparison is this: a large well-respected company undertook clinical trials and these were approved by the FDA. Yet there were multiple failures in this process Of course, I’m not saying the vaccine trials were beset by the same issues. I’m just saying that it’s not crazy to be cautious.
          Finally, it is clear that the transmission data has been radically weaker in real life than was hoped, for whatever reason. Of course, if it had lived up to the early promise, it would be a different matter.

      2. Actually, there is more to obesity than “what you eat” and “psychological issues”.

        People struggle with obesity for a range of reasons that include their genetics, medications that they take, some people gain a lot of weight after an injury because it prevents them from exercising, there’s evidence that gut flora may be a factor in why some people find weight easy to gain and hard to lose. The gut flora angle is particularly interesting as a lot of stuff has happened during and soon before the obesity epidemic than could have messed with our gut flora.

        So the idea that people who are overweight are invariably eating a poor diet and doing so “for psychological reasons” really needs to go away.

        1. Gut flora is also affected by diet so cause and effect is likely to be the other way around in at least some cases

          I never said it was ‘invariably’ for that reason. Just as there are people who do not get vaccinated for what everyone would agree are non-psychological and perfectly rational reasons e.g. they have a medical condition that means they are advised not to.

          1. In fact, experimental studies have suggested that your gut flora can contribute to or cause obesity, rather than just being correlated as a proxy for poor diet:

            There are researchers around the world who have given germ free mice the gut flora of obese and thin people. Though the mice were all on a controlled scientific diet, the mice who were infected by obese people were much more likely to get fat.

            And sure diet can influence your gut flora. However, there are also a wide variety of other things that can influence the gut microbiome which are only weakly influenced by the person’s choices (or even the parents’ choices for a minor child).

            Even with diet as an influence on gut flora, that can include things such as certain foods with fewer (possibly implicated) additives being more expensive, or where the average person may not know what to look for.

            If a vaccine is offered for free and is available to most people (mostly true in the developed world) that is not the same thing is the fact that cost, availability, along with (mis)information, or lack thereof can influence a lot of people’s food choices.

            If somebody is in an area where the vaccine is not free and they are low income, or where availability is an issue, that’s not the same thing as vaccine hesitancy.
            If somebody has a medical reason not to get the vaccine, that is also something very different from hesitancy. In fact, I’d even say leaning towards the liberal and generous view of people with borderline or even questionable, but genuine belief that the vaccine is medically contraindicated for them, is profoundly different from saying “You have to look at the structural reasons for hesitancy” or talking about “psychological reasons” people are reluctant.

  4. there is not 1 of the reasons in this article that even remotely applies to the subject. getting vaccinated is not something that we can leave up to highly the subjective morals of a fraction of the population who seem to think their ideas and opinions have more value than anyone else and that they are free to put many other peope at risk because they are cowards. this is not grammer school this is a world wide epidemic and millions of people have already died and millions more will die if everyone who can be vaccinated isn’t. this is like a war and in a war people do things they wouldn’t ordinary do. dying for the benefit of others is something you see alot in a war and even those who won’t agree to fight (consiencious objectors) are required to help the war effort in some way. this is a time to do things you wouldn’t ordinarly do, being selfish won’t work here and being one of the unvaccinated is being selfish

  5. The last line reads: “We have parliaments and formal mechanisms for limiting behaviour, or incentivising it. We should leave it to these to regulate behaviour, not the media or the mob.” A government or public authoritycan make vaccination mandatory. Both of us have extensively reviewed the arguments for this elsewhere. See for example: What we argued here is that society should not use shaming to promote vaccination.

  6. Thank you so much for this article. As an unvaccinated person I am just so disturbed and worn out by the baying mob. I just can hardly believe in this world that its OK for world leaders to call people stupid, idiotic, misogynistic, racist, non citizens, enemies (and cowards by the previous poster)…..for making a personal choice in regards a medical intervention. A medical intervention might I add that does not stop transmission of the virus, full stop. So the risk I am taking is all my own. I cannot believe the anger and vemon directed me and so many others like me, is for my own good, it really doesn’t seem like that. The rage seems to be borne from the fact that I won’t do what the majority think I should do. Is this how the world should be? Bullying, threatening, coercing, name calling, excluding, punishing? I think history will look back in horror at what became of the so called liberal left during this period (of which I formerly identified). I hope to god I survive this awful awful time but even if I don’t I hope the Shamers will come to realise it is their behaviour of which they should be ashamed. Also to the previous commenter, please stop using the term anti vaxxer, it is intended to insult offend and belittle and its not accurate, the vast majority of people who have not taken this vaccine have taken every other vaccine offered in the course of their lives.

    1. I agree with your post. I am vaccinated against my will, held to ransom by my employer.
      Minorities shamed over time, let’s look at that. Yes there was a time when you were killed for not believing in God, a time when a minority of women said enough is enough and a minority of black and white people that said this is ludicrous, we are all human, stop your madness and the shamers over time fall silent.
      Until now, when the sheeple now have an opportunity to shame the unvaccinated eventhough we have seen vaccinated die, the virus spreads, the regular flu is 8 times more deadly than carona, our immune systems are designed to cope with viruses, politicians and top health officers and doctors have bonuses, grants and other funding given to them by big Pharma not to mention the Murdoch agenda in the media. In time these brain washed sheep will come to learn that this was a big farce.

    2. hello there anonymous, I’m 62 years old, unvaccinated and have almost survived 5 waves of COVID mass formation psychosis. For the past two years, I did remain COVID-free and even went once a week to visit my father at the senior’s home where he has lived since August 2021. Things were going smoothly, until all of a sudden, the management at the senior’s home decided to keep out unvaccinated visitors and workers. I was devastated and heartbroken. Right now, I can’t be with my dad, who is isolated and declining both physically and mentally. I can’t take much more of this unfair abusive treatment. Now, seven vaccinated health care workers, who work at the senior’s home, have caught COVID and five fully vaxxed/boosted residents as well. Meanwhile, I’m healthy and I’m treated like a misfit, a dangerous leper, public enemy, called selfish, a conspiracy nut and I am blamed for the pandemic dragging on and accused of being a burden to hospitals, when that isn’t true. This is a nightmare of government overreach, big pharma corporations choosing money over health and the media provoking division, fear and hatred. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that this Orwellian dystopia would become the new normal. I think maybe the whole thing was rigged to bring in QR code vaccine passes and social credit scores, make governments more powerful and make big corporations even richer. This isn’t exactly about health when now they are still trying to mask up healthy children in California schools with N95 masks, keep seniors isolated, create division in families and in communities, fire workers if they don’t get vaccinated, keep students out of colleges and universities if they aren’t vaxxed, stop truckers from delivering goods across borders if they aren’t vaxxed and allow YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and other mainstream media to get away with scientific censorship, silencing hard working, intelligent doctors with differing viewpoints, silencing the vaccine injured to keep the narrative going that the vaccines are perfectly “safe and effective” while big pharma has no liability and is not held accountable for the suffering that they caused with their rushed experimental vaccines. The lab rat majority don’t know the long term side effects of the vaccines, 5 years from now, do they? Maybe they feel superior now, but what if a long term side effect pops up in a few years? Would they apologize to the unvaxxed or those who are unvaxxed with natural immunity? Right now, I’m upset because the vaxxed people in my own family are treating me as if I’m an outcast, a lunatic. They didn’t even wish me happy birthday (I turned 62 today). A vaxxed sheep says to me “Don’t take this the wrong way, but you and your partner deserve to get COVID”. An Ipsos poll found that 67 percent of Canadians want the government to impose further measures on the unvaccinated population (with 49 percent of the respondents blaming the unvaccinated for prolonging the pandemic) – now entering it’s third year.

      1. “The lab rat majority don’t know the long term side effects of the vaccines, 5 years from now, do they? Maybe they feel superior now, but what if a long term side effect pops up in a few years? Would they apologize to the unvaxxed or those who are unvaxxed with natural immunity?”

        Susan, I don’t want to suggest you lack basic reasoning skills, but can you please explain to us vaccine advocates how exactly we are supposed to know what the effects of a vaccine are 5 years from now if multitudes of people don’t take the vaccine? Because it sounds very much like you feel the “lab rats” (i.e., people who got vaccinated) should not have taken it, but went along like “sheep” (another of your metaphors). So lets say they all followed your advice and didn’t take it: then what exactly would we know in 5 years? Has it occurred to you that you are treating the rest of the population as “lab rats”? The self-contradictory logic, “nobody should take the vaccine until we know it is safe” is just a retreat for cowards who want the rest of us to “test” the vaccine for them so they can make their decision after the unfortunate “lab rats” have done the work.

        Or do you think that giving 10 billion doses to actual lab rats would prove its safety in humans? Sorry, that doesn’t work.

        So no, I won’t apologize to you if side effects show up in five years – instead I will ask for compensation for having had the sense and courage to do the medically necessary thing while you and other “freedom”-fighters cowered in a corner, watching the “lab rats” make sure that no harmful vaccines ever trouble your person.

        Yes, it is a kind of Orwellian dystopia, but one that has been generated by ignorant, illogical and cynical people, the kind who want to visit their “loved ones” in a nursing home during a pandemic that is frequently fatal to the elderly. (“Loved ones” is another contradiction here.)

      2. As for side effects that “pop up in five years” and are long term?

        Well the vaccines deliver one or more Covid-19 antigens. If that can cause long term side effects than one would expect the actual infection to have a higher risk of the same.

  7. To the commenters who repeatedly say the unvaccinated are putting the vaccinated at risk, you clearly do not understand the science regarding these vaccines. They do not stop transmission, that is unequivocal, there are more vaccinated people spreading the virus than unvaccinated. This argument does not stand up.

  8. Sorry, but it is your argument that does not stand up. They “do not stop transmission” WHEN a vaccinated person is infected in spite of being vaccinated. What they do is reduce the number of people who are infected in the first place, which reduces the possible cases of transmission. Also, the fewer people infected, the fewer opportunities to generate new mutations, and the fewer opportunities for new mutations to become widespread. Nothing will “stop transmission” of a contagious illness 100%. Demands for 100% effectiveness or 100% safety are just a misunderstanding of how medical science has always worked.

  9. Well how do you explain 4 doses in Israel and highest case numbers of whole pandemic right now? One of the most highly vaccinated countries in the world. Sorry still doesn’t stand up. Case numbers exploding all over the vaccinated world. ….how can you say vaccines reducing transmission seriously? Omricon nearly totally evading current vaccine “immunity” which lasts a mere 3 months if your lucky….You need to read up on your science……

  10. First of all, the “vaccinated world” does not exist, partly because skeptics like you continue to spread misinformation about it. According to the NY Times COVID tracking, about 2/3 of Israelis are fully vaccinated, making them 54th on the list of countries by vaccination rate. Out of a population of 9.5 million that leaves over 3.1 million people who are not fully vaccinated, more than enough to spread a disease. Moreover I believe the vaccination rate differs a great deal by subgroup, so communities that have a much lower vaccination rate than the whole population act as breeding grounds for transmission. This is why it is so irresponsible for people to provide excuses for them. And in any case, Delta is still out there and vaccines are effective against it, even moreso with boosters.

    Second, there is no evidence that Omicron is “nearly totally evading” the vaccine; it is evading it to some degree, but that is only an argument for a modified vaccine that resists Omicron, which is coming. Exactly like the flu vaccine, which is modified every year to provide the maximum resistance to the latest versions. People do not seem to understand that the flu vaccine, which has been widely used for about 75 years, is far less effective (statistically speaking) than even the least effective COVID vaccines. Yet it is not a subject of the same skepticism and conspiracy theories. In fact the decrease in the seasonal flu rate due to the vaccine is relatively small. But if 10% of a nation of 330,000,000 (the U.S.) gets the flu every year that is 33 million cases, and if even 1% die from it that is 3.3 million deaths (in fact the average death rate is higher than that); and if you decrease the rate of death even by 1% then you have saved 33,000 lives – about like eliminating all U.S. deaths from motor vehicle accidents annually. That’s why vaccines are so important.

    All this is apart from the statistically proven and generally uncontested point that getting vaccinated greatly reduces the severity of the disease and the chance of death, regardless of which variant you get. That is the fact behind the “shaming” that the author of the blog post objected to. People certainly should not be shamed for being gullible and listening to the wrong sources about vaccines. They should be shamed for BEING the source of disinformation that causes others to make fatally wrong decisions.

  11. Ok check out Singapore, Gibraltar, highly vaccinated, still spreading. Even if everyone was vaccinated the virus has the intelligence to adapt. Vaccination could only eliminate it if it stopped transmission which it does not. Let’s pick this conversation up in a year when the full extent of the safety and efficacy of these vaccines is known. Also you’re bundling these totally new mRNA vaccines with traditional vaccines that have gone through proper trialing and safety procedures. Let me say this though I understand and respect your decision to get vaccinated, I understand your complete trust in science and medicine and I understand you truly believe vaccination is the way out of this pandemic (despite all evidence to the contrary). I don’t have the same faith and trust in Pharmaceuticals (Pfizer certified criminals), I think science can make mistakes and I think traditional medicine has a complete disregard and arrogance toward natural medicine. We’re coming at this from different angles. But I still respect your freedom to have your own mind and make your own decisions. You may be right and I may be wrong but in a free world I have the right to be wrong. Maybe you’d prefer a different kind of wold… seem pretty angry that you can’t force your will on me (yet). Namaste (bet that really annoys you lol…) I’m exiting this conversation now, I genuinely wish you well.

    1. “Anonymous” may have exited the conversation, but those who read his/her post should be aware that mRNA vaccines are the outcome of 60 years of research and testing. They were first tested against AIDS, and unfortunately have not been successful yet. Then they were developed for MERS, which blew over before vaccines were necessary. The fact that researchers are well aware and open about the successes and failures of vaccines should tell you that there is no conspiracy here. That doesn’t mean scientists can’t make mistakes. But what we have in the world today is a multitude of people who think they know better than the consensus of the worldwide community of scientists, as if the gut feelings of individuals with no expertise have just as much weight as the opinions of thousands of scientists whose business it is to do medical research and evaluate the results.

      Even when the scientific consensus is wrong it is better than random guesswork by others. There have been cases where a vaccine turned out to be more dangerous than they believed, yet overall it still saved more lives than it cost. Of course nobody wants a vaccine that causes only a little more good than harm, but there is ZERO evidence that that is the case with the COVID vaccines: almost 10 BILLION doses of the vaccines have been administered, and there is no sign that the vaccine is dangerous. The U.S. maintain a system (VAERS) for reporting adverse reactions to vaccines. That system tracks various types of reactions, and tracks who died shortly after receiving the vaccine. It is all out there in the open, but also available to be misused by conspiracy theorists. People die after watching funny movies, but it doesn’t mean the movie killed them. The cases of deaths that can be reliably attributed to the vaccine are miniscule.

      Don’t confuse the “right” to say what you want, which is a legal right in democratic countries, with the moral value of telling people not to get vaccinated or not to wear masks in public. Your moral right to make any statement depends on a lot of things besides the law. You have a legal right to make racial insults, advocate rape, and tell friends to click on ransomware links. Having a “right” to say something doesn’t mean you are not doing something evil in saying it. Which you are if you advocate ideas that help spread a potentially deadly illness.

  12. OK I’m re entering this because Anton my friend you are bordering on abusive now. In the last two comments you called me and other commenters evil, cowards, ignorant, illogical and cynical. You are a bully and guilty of doing EXACTLY what this article says. Why are you here, commenting on this article if not to ridicule humiliate and SHAME people? Did you search for this? Look for people to rage at? How dare you lecture me on my personal medical choices or anyone else for that matter. Your righteousness is disturbing at best and dangerous at worst. If either of us was to be the racist it most certainly would be you Sir, speaking down to me, telling me how stupid I am and how intelligent you are and how you know what is best for me. I have told you that all I would like is to be left alone to make my own choice on this matter and that I totally respect your choice. But yet you come back again and again to harass me. How absolutely dare you. I have NEVER told anyone not to take this vaccine, everyone I know got it and I’m happy for them. I have never spread misinformation. You are actually spreading misinformation if you claim there is no censorship on Google, You Tube, Twitter etc. Have you ever heard of Maddie de Garay, 12 year old girl, confined to a wheelchair after having the sense, as you say, to sign up to the Pfizer trial. Pfizer recorded her PARALYSIS as a stomach ache. If it was your daughter I’m sure you wouldn’t just happily collect the compensation. Can you put a price on someone’s legs? There are thousands of people badly injured and actually killed by this vaccine but you certainly won’t hear about them on mainstream media. My jaw dropped when you said that vaccines that have killed people are even worth it for the lives they save. Are you actually serious???? I don’t think that’s how medicine works, Russian Roulette, this might kill you or save you but just take it. That is insane and completely at odds with the Hippocratic Oath, do no harm. Now please leave us alone, if you were trying to convince anyone to take the vaccine you have failed miserably. Please don’t insult us by pretending you care if we live or die, you came here to vent your anger, nothing else. And stop saying unvaccinated people are a danger to the vaccinated, it is misinformation, the vaccinated are probably more of a danger to the unvaccinated and EVERYONE can spread it.

  13. Hello again, Anonymous. First of all, my response to your post does not accuse you of any of the things you mentioned, except that I said it is “evil” to advocate ideas that help spread a deadly disease, which I stand by.

    What you are apparently upset about is my response to “Susan”, who (1) absurdly uses her own personal survivial as a policy point in a pandemic that has killed millions, (2) complains about every single government policy put in place to try to stop the spread of COVID, (3) refers to those who have taken the vaccine as “lab rats” and “sheep”, (4) states that we should wait five years to find out whether the vaccine is safe, while also advocating that no one take it, (5) in a previous post, expresses her regret at not being able to visit a nursing home (unvaccinated, presumably), where the risk of fatality from COVID is enormously higher and has already lead to thousands of deaths, and (6) like a typical conspiracy theorist cites “mainstream media spreading disinformation”, without stating where she gets her supposedly accurate information. So I am not going to retract any of what I said to her. Sorry if you consider it “harrassment”; I responded to her claims and arguments and I firmly believe that she, and people who share that belief system, are the ones spreading disinformation. It is extremely disheartening to see religiously inspired, right-wing conspiracy theories spreading about everything from global warming to vaccines to abortion; I’m not sure what Susan means by “mass formation psychosis” but I think there is definitely a mass psychosis of belief: it is the belief that random personal observations and unanalyzed statistical anomalies are good enough if they support what you want to believe, while all government regulation and scientific research is under suspicion of trying to dupe the public.

    Last thing: regarding “vaccines that have killed people are even worth it for the lives they save”, please re-read my comment. I specifically said that “no one wants” a vaccine that has only a small utilitarian benefit. In fact, vaccines and medications are exactly the same in this regard: FDA panels constantly reject applications for medications that pose serious risk to users even if they may have some overall benefit. Or they may approve them for extremely restricted use, or approve their use only in patients who have no other hope of survival. These failsafe mechanisms are already in place and have been for decades. But every vaccine, and most medications, still have some potential to harm people. The “Hippocratic Oath” is a nice ideal, but hundreds of lifesaving or ameliorative drugs would not exist today if it were strictly observed. “Do no harm” has to be true in the broad relation of a therapy to a medical condition, not in each and every single instance. Of course, as an advocate (apparently) of alternative medicine, you are well aware that many such medications and therapies are quite capable of causing anything from cancer to paralysis to death. That does not mean we should never use them; like the vast majority of vaccines, “the benefit outweighs the risk” when used in ways recommended by experts.

    Honestly, the only reason I looked at this site is because I thought it was a philosophy blog, where philosophically and scientifically informed discussion would take place. But I see it is really a bulletin board with the same kinds of discussion you find on FB pages and the like, including a lot of popular prejudice and arguments that are more rhetoric than logic and regurgitation of alt-right nonsense. (Not necessarily yours, even though I disagree with you, but a lot of the content here.) So I am going to exit the discussion myself. Good luck and good health to you.

  14. OK Anton, I appreciate your sorry/not sorry response, it was definitely the least hostile of all your comments. Again, for the umpteenth time, I understand where you are coming from and I respect your opinions. Just to clarify I am a very normal (whatever that is) mother (certainly not religious or right wing) of two small children, with a partner who is jabbed up the yang yang as my father would say. My partner spent the first year of the pandemic in a state catatonic fear, spraying down the post/shopping/children, crossing the street to avoid walking past someone, regarding all other living beings as threats to his health and safety. I’ve seen what fear has done to him so we were both extremely relieved when he got his jabs. We have had to adjust to accommodate each others views and live side by side in peace and tolerance. Maybe that is a lesson we have learned from this pandemic. A little over a year ago we were all the same, in it together but now you’ve been actively encouraged by the powers that be to see me as your enemy. The government is telling you to hate me. It’ll take a long time for me to forget that, it sends shivers down my spine. I’m still the same person I was a year ago. Anyway on that note, I wish you the best of good luck and good health in return. P.s cut Susan some slack

  15. The “powers that be” have been pretty diverse in their views – even Trump was pro-vaccine but anti-mask, so is Boris Johnson in UK, Gov. Cuomo in New York strongly pro-lockdown, Gov. DeSantis in Florida totally against it, etc. I don’t see you as my enemy and I certainly don’t get my social views from politicians or blindly follow medical advice. Your own posts and some of the others suggest that there is enormous popular sentiment in favor of medical and social measures to limit the disease; this is not mainly generated by powers that be but by basic survival instincts. The health measures are similar to those taken at other times and other places, but the political environment is different now – rampant distrust of both science and government, some of it for good reason but still in my view misplaced when it comes to public health. There has been an anti-vax movement since long before COVID and I see it on a continuum with other anti-science sentiments. I find them dangerous to human civilization in general; whatever the faults of science, technology and government, harnessing them for public good is the only way life has ever improved in this world. Without medical science people would still be having surgery without anesthesia and dying of smallpox. So we need to be open to new technologies like mRNA vaccines and not start with an attitude of distrust or there is nowhere to go but down.

    Thank you for the conversation. (Now really exiting this thread!)

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