I am writing this because I don’t think there is any sensible, middle-ground opposition to the COVID-19 vaccine programme. Because ordinary people who simply choose not to have the vaccine have to speak in hushed whispers to one another for fear of being shouted down by angry pro-vaccine zealots, for fear of being quietly disowned by people they have known for years, or for fear of being associated with conspiracy theorists who think there are microchips in the vaccine.
So I am writing this for you, friend. For the person who simply is reluctant to have the vaccine for their own sensible reasons. For me, that is because I intensely distrust the government, both local and national, because I know they do not have our best interests at heart. By “our”, I mean the proles, the workers, the people who are not rich, the people who are less than not rich, the people who aspire for a different kind of world and a different kind of life than the one we are all incentivised to work ourselves to death for. All you have to do is look at the inherently unequal power structures in society to know it is true that the state abhors us. All you have to do is be poor and have any contact with any of the branches of the state to know that we are less than cared for. All you have to do is have a very important job but get paid next-to-nothing for it, to discover that in this world, this world that “claps for you”, this world thinks it owns your body just because you look after its nan.
I am also not having it because I am old enough to remember the Thalidomide scandal. I am not having it because we simply do not know the long-term effects of the vaccine and I don’t care how much the “professionals” claim it’s safe: they are lying at worst, and engaging in positive, magical thinking at best, unless they also have time machines. I am not taking it because the UK government currently offers us a £120,000 Vaccine Damage Payment if we are disabled because of it, and my health is worth much more than that. I am not having it because I have had COVID. I know what it is and what it does and, for me, it’s nowhere near as bad as the flu. And are you out there shouting at me, condemning me, seeking to curtail my civil liberties, seeking to control my body, because I also refuse the flu jab every year? Why do we not talk about the “long flu” – my scarred and damaged lungs – the same way we talk about “long COVID”, my rotating tendonitis?
I am not having it because I am, myriad chronic illnesses aside, a healthy 46-year-old. I am healthy and confident in my health because I take my health seriously. Because I have taken responsibility for my health my entire life. Because I eat healthily and care about nutrition, because I get plenty of exercise, because I don’t drink or take drugs excessively, because I am always a healthy weight, and because I generally do not pollute my body with junk food. Because I have taken the time and effort it takes to be healthy all my life. I do not believe in quick fixes to health: I believe health is a lifestyle, whether that’s good or bad. Health is how we live: mentally, physically, and emotionally. And I have prioritised my health all my life. Have you?
I mean seriously, have you?
Because I look about me and I see a lot of people who are not of a healthy weight (under, over, and obese), who do not exercise, who eat the worst kinds of processed and refined foods, who eat and drink vast quantities of sugar (whether in the form of refined sugar or in the form of carbohydrates/cereals/grains), who eat and drink awful chemicals that are impossible to pronounce in their so-called “convenience foods”, who smoke tobacco, and who drink a lot of alcohol or take a lot of drugs (OTC, prescription, or recreational). I look at those people and I know they do not take their health seriously. They do not prioritise their health. They do not put their health first. So tell me, why should I? Why should I put their health before mine? Why should I take responsibility for their health by taking a vaccine I do not want, when those people cannot do even the most basic level of proactive health management for themselves?
If anything, this pandemic should have been a wake-up call for people in respect of how they approached their health. Because there are a lot of people with no genetic underlying health issues who have lost themselves to COVID-fear, and why? For many of them, it is because they know they have never prioritised their health, never ensured they live a healthy life in a healthy body, and now they are afraid that they have made themselves vulnerable or at risk. And I am sorry to those who are immunocompromised or at risk through no fault of their own, but their health is still not my responsibility, any more than my asthma or osteoarthritis or scarred lungs (etc.) is theirs.
So you want me to take the vaccine? Here’s what I want:
- I want you to live a healthy lifestyle: physically, mentally, and emotionally.
- I want you to eat healthy, nutritious real food.
- I want you to learn about nutrition if you do not know what it means to eat healthily, or if you think eating healthily takes too much time or too much money. I want you to learn how to cook from scratch.
- I want you to exercise regularly. I want you to move. I want you to make sure your exercise is sustained and includes strength training, cardiovascular training, flexibility, and balance training.
- I want you to stop drinking so much or taking so many drugs that you damage your body.
- I want you to maintain a healthy weight.
- I want you to stop putting yourselves in situations that are so stressful to you that you damage your health. And if you do not know how to do that, then I want you to notice the structures in society that make it impossible for you to stop and, in turn, stop supporting them.
When you’ve done all of that, en masse, for at least the next decade of your lives, get back to me. When you’ve demonstrated by your actions that you prioritise your health and take full responsibility for it, then get back to me and ask me again to take the vaccine. But until then, please go ahead with your cheap, quick fixes that enable you to carry on with your fundamentally unhealthy lives with your head in the sand, but do not expect me to do the same.
I choose life, a healthy, fundamentally honest one, which enables me to view my fellow humans as something other than vectors for disease.