The war on the unvaccinated

In 2022, we must defend bodily autonomy.…
This year governments across the developed world have issued a flurry of policies designed to ‘nudge’ people to get the vaccine, such as requiring vaccine passports to enter leisure venues.
In some countries, those nudges quickly turned into shoves. In November, Austria pioneered the ‘lockdown for the unvaccinated’, making it illegal for the unvaccinated to leave the house without a state-mandated excuse.
A week later, Austria was plunged into a general lockdown, though it was clear the government wanted everyone to blame the unvaccinated.

On the same day the lockdown was announced, Austria became the first Western country to make vaccination compulsory by law.
Refusers holding out beyond February 2022 face fines that can eventually be converted into prison sentences. A similar compulsory-vaccine policy has been taken up by the new German government.
In Greece, the unvaccinated will be fined €100 for every month they remain unvaccinated.
When authority figures tell the hesitant that their doubts are idiotic or that they are just plague-ridden scum, then they are far less likely to trust the help being offered to them.
Worse, the othering and un-personing of the unvaccinated becomes a pretext for harsh crackdowns on liberty. And it is never solely the unvaccinated who suffer here. If our civil liberties are conditional on our health status, that makes all of us less free.
It turns freedom into a licence, granted temporarily by the state, and taken away just as easily.

The war on the unvaxxed is also leading to the abandonment of hard-won principles, like bodily autonomy.
Bodily autonomy is such a fundamental liberty that even authoritarian China feels the need to cynically proclaim that its vaccine rollout is based on the principle of informed consent (even though, in practice, forced vaccination is common, according to human-rights observers).
If people are to have sovereignty over their own bodies, they must have the right to do things, and to refuse to do things – even if the majority considers it wrong. This is the minimum of what we should expect in a liberal democracy.
Sadly, as has been clear throughout the pandemic, governments have been guided by the twin evils of safetyism and technocracy. The safetyist ideology sidelines any concern or principle that appears to stand in the way of ‘keeping us safe’.
And the technocratic impulse reduces what ought to be free, democratic citizens to mere plot points on a graph, numbers on a chart to be nudged, manipulated or coerced upwards or downwards.
That means the unvaxxed are just another problem to be dealt with through some new restriction, rather than people to be won over to a safe and effective vaccine.
In 2022, we need to stand up for voluntary vaccination, for bodily autonomy and for freedoms to no longer be conditional on our health status. The war on the unvaccinated is bad for everyone.

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