There’s another story that might otherwise have been front page news today, had it not been for the Downing Street party scene.
Britain might be the first country in the world to move out of the Covid pandemic and into a position where the virus is endemic.
Believe it or not, that’s a good thing.
It means 95% us will have antibodies to the virus, either from having had it or being vaccinated against it.
We will finally be able to just live with it, like we do the common cold.
Of course immunity wanes, which is why we’re all being encouraged to first get the vaccine and then top it up with the booster.
Israel is already onto the fourth jab for citizens over the age of 60.
Maintaining high levels of antibodies in the community is key to getting anything like back to normal life and that’s why vaccines play such a critical role.
It’s also why we should be utterly fixated on debunking any concerns people have about their safety and efficacy as well as shutting down as many routes as possible for anti-vax activists to share their half-truths, mistruths and downright lies.
Some have good reasons for vaccine hesitancy
Not everyone who refuses the vaccine should be dismissed as an anti-vax activist.
Of course there are people who have concerns about how the vaccine might react with pre-existing health conditions or pregnancy.
I have serious food allergies that sometimes affect the drugs I can be prescribed so I was initially worried about how I might react to the first vaccine.
One conversation with a nurse at the vaccination centre fixed all that.
— Kezia Dugdale (@kezdugdale) December 12, 2021
Conversations matter and you’ll find vaccinators very willing to have them.
I also accept that other people won’t have it for religious or personal beliefs.
There are people who feel very strongly about what they’re prepared to put in their body.
I can’t relate to it and I’m not sure I understand that point of view but I’m prepared to respect it.
The anti-vax movement is more problematic
What I struggle with is when an individual decision morphs into a mob movement that mobilises and protests outside vaccination stations.
That creates and promotes propaganda that leaves the young women at my hairdressers convinced the vaccine will affect their fertility, despite there being 100% zero evidence to that end.
They just heard about it on Facebook.
There’s also, thankfully, a small minority of people who are taking the Michael and exploiting the fact that self isolation rules are far more stringent if you are unvaccinated.
You can get 10 days paid sick leave each time you’re pinged if you don’t get jabbed.
It’s what’s led a number of major corporations to introduce new policies to punish those who won’t get the vaccine.
Morrisons Supermarket did it in September last year, removing enhanced sick pay from those who refuse to get jabbed.
Ikea has hit the headlines this week by introducing something similar.
Reduced sick pay for the unvaccinated feels like the right thing to do
At the moment, an Ikea employee can get up to £450 a week sick pay.
If they’re unjabbed that will fall to the statutory sick pay of £96.35 – a considerable drop.
To me that feels instinctively just.
How can it be fair that you get longer off work, on paid leave, for failing to do the basics to protect yourself and others from illness?
Of course there should be caveats and protections for people who can’t get the jab.
And of course this will be challenged, undoubtedly with a test case in court.
But what choice do companies have?
Critics will see things differently
Opponents will argue that this is a huge leap. That we shouldn’t have to disclose really personal health details to our employers in order to access our rights.
They have a point.
Behavioural experts will say people will just not disclose their Covid status because they can’t afford to be off.
Others will argue that this is the thin end of the wedge.
That one day it’s enhanced sick pay for vaccines, the next it will only be available to non-smokers, or those who eat the recommended five fruit and veg a day.
They have a point too.
Yet the reality is we’re faced with continued restrictions to our liberty because a group of largely unvaccinated people are leaving our health system on its knees and our economy on the brink.
Because of a decision they think only affects them.
That’s the dose of reality anti-vaxxers really need.