OPINION

Democracy and vaccinations

democracy-and-vaccinations

It is very gratifying that many younger people are quickly seeking to secure an appointment to get vaccinated against Covid-19, taking advantage of the launch of the process for younger ages.

Fortunately, there are many citizens who are not convinced by main opposition leader Alexis Tsipras’ efforts to take advantage of the pandemic to score political points, alleging that the government is trying to “unload” excess doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine because a large part of the population is afraid of it. Hopefully, the turnout that is now being observed will continue and allow the country and its people to quickly reach the much-coveted protection offered by herd immunity.

On the other hand, any optimistic predictions are risky, as the data we have do not allow for premature triumphant celebrations. We must not overlook the fact that, in Greece, only 60-65% of the elderly – those who are most at risk – have been vaccinated, and that is the main reason why the daily loss of life from the coronavirus remains high. The percentage of health workers who refuse to be vaccinated in this country is also unacceptably high, setting the worst possible example.

The widespread fear and reluctance of large sections of the population to get vaccinated is evident not only from the various appalling claims circulating on the internet, but also from the questions posed in television and radio broadcasts. It is clear that most of those who ask questions are desperately trying to find excuses not to be vaccinated, without of course openly admitting it.

Therefore, we do not know what percentage of citizens will eventually be vaccinated, so it remains unknown if and when we will reach herd immunity. It is quite telling that, in the United States, the vaccination campaign has slowed down lately, because it has now reached the wall of anti-vaxxers, conspiracy theorists and Trumpists – who are more than a few. Unfortunately, we have many of their kind here as well…

The conclusion is that, for the time being, the mass turnout for inoculation concerns sensible and prudent citizens who realize that in this way they will protect themselves and the country, while strengthening the operation of the economy in all sectors. And here is where the issue of democracy comes in. Not in the sense of voluntary attendance for vaccination, as is now the case in Greece and worldwide, or as it is used by all sorts of deniers as an argument, with the help of many social justice warriors of the extreme and the essentially irrational “politically correct.”

The real question for democracy today, in relation to Covid-19, is why should we allow a minority to endanger the lives of the majority of citizens, their quality of life and the country’s economic development, in the name of some beliefs which have nothing to do with scientific data. Does a democratic state have a duty to defend its citizens with certain mandatory provisions (including Covid-19 vaccination), especially in exceptional circumstances, or not?