On the outside of my right arm, a couple and three inches from my shoulder, are two now, faint but still-discernible horizontal scars, perhaps a centimetre wide. When I was but a happy lad, they were clearly discernible abrasion, the lower one resembling a vampire’s serrated lips.
As children, we all had these scars, except that two of my cousins had round ones. We used to compare the scars and I may even have enquired from an adult why these disfigurements had different shapes. The answer I got was that some doctors had knives and others had cylindrical vaccinating devices.
The scars originated from diligent parents and family doctors giving us infants preventive shots against the prevalent Indian diseases, such as smallpox.
I have since had, in my short and happy life, several other vaccinations --mostly when I travelled to continents in which there was some risk of catching something to which I couldn’t possibly have natural immunity. Or perhaps the anti-tetanus stuff I was injected with was because I was fooling around with rusty instruments.
That being said, I think I was even once vaccinated against rabies, though I can’t recall any plague of mad dogs in my travels.
None of these subsequent vaccines -- the ones delivered after infancy -- have left any physical mark, having been injected through sublime syringes. And so, gentle reader, with the two anti-Covid-19 jabs that the UK’s National Health Service has generously given me gratis.
I am one of the 80 per cent of people in Britain who have had at least one anti-Covid vaccination. But that’s the statistic for the whole of the UK. I live in London, and though the vaccine has been universally and conveniently available now for anyone above the age of 18, the “take-up” in the British capital has been tardy. The percentage of vaccinated people is much lower and statistical surveys demonstrate that the resistance to being vaccinated is significantly higher among the black and Asian communities. Since these constitute over 30 percent of London’s population, and since London has a high density of ethnic communities, the prevalence of Covid-19 infections, hospitalisation and deaths from the viral disease are considerably higher than in other parts of the UK.
There are all manner of reasons for people being against vaccination. All of them, in my opinion, are irrational, ludicrous and, most of all, acutely selfish. It becomes a matter of social concern as the rules on wearing face masks have been scrapped and become “voluntary”. London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, has said masks are compulsory on London’s buses and the Tube, but that’s akin to King Canute holding back the tides. The opening of pubs and public spaces allows the possibly infected carriers of this plague to freely associate with the vaccinated and the unvaccinated.
There is enough evidence now to indicate that the doubly vaccinated may catch the Covid-19 infection by travelling on the crowded Tube with a lot of voluntarily unmasked passengers or being in crowded venues, but the symptoms will be mild and will not, in the absence of other severe bodily complications, lead to any fatalities. It’s the unvaccinated who are most at risk.
Their choice to be, but not their right to infect others.
Why the resistance?
Cranky and conspiracy theories, religious injunctions and downright stupidity abound.
Let me count the ways: A mullah in the north tells his congregation that vaccines are not necessary as he knows of a divine protection through the recitation of particular formulated verses. I must add that this is not a universal Muslim belief in the country, and very many mosques have voluntarily and magnanimously turned themselves into vaccination centres and encouraged and welcomed all comers.
I have no idea whether the cranky contention that “Bill Gates has infested all anti-Covid vaccines with microchips that enter the body so that Mr Gates can control your thoughts and actions” is something peculiar to Britain and the United States or whether it has reached India’s sunny clime.
I’ve bothered to ask one individual, a carpet cleaner by profession, who was convinced that Bill Gates was up to this universal trick, why Mr Windows would want to control him. The only reason he could come up with was that Bully Bill would then get him to approve of being vaccinated. Engagement with paradox was not this gentleman’s forte.
The best anti-vaxxer justification came from a lady who said she was a vegan and since the vaccines contained living organisms, she couldn’t import them into her body. Her caution or caveat reminded of me of the Jains who wore masks so as not to breathe in living creatures. Their belief was born before science revealed to all humankind that trillions of bacteria live and die in each living creature’s guts and that, masks or no masks, we breathe in all manner of species that can share our conceit of being labelled living beings.
The Covid-19 virus is just one of these and the vegan lady may, through resisting the living matter (mRNA, to give it its proper biological name) in the vaccine, invite the real thing to invade her already bacteria-infested, impure guts and lungs.