The Malta Independent 22 September 2021, Wednesday

TMID Editorial: Covid-19 - Anti-vaxxers are putting others at risk

Wednesday, 28 July 2021, 08:16 Last update: about 3 months ago

Everyone is free to choose between being vaccinated and not getting the jab.

Everyone is also free to protest against anything, although a protest against something which is not obligatory is rather bizarre.

But then, given the state of affairs brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic – more than 400 deaths, hundreds in intensive care, and thousands of others catching the virus – nobody should be surprised if unvaccinated people are treated differently from the rest.

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Vaccination, although not 100 per cent protective against Covid-19, reduces the chances of complications and the need to be hospitalised. Statistics worldwide show that the number of people who have been vaccinated stand fewer risks of developing severe symptoms and dying. This is why governments worldwide – Malta included – have made strong campaigns in favour of vaccination.

Last Saturday, a group of people turned up in Valletta to voice their opinion against getting the Covid-19 vaccination. Whether this protest was organised and had the necessary permit is not clear. What is sure is that many of those who turned up did not obey the restrictive measures currently in place, and the authorities would do well to look into any law breaking.

Beyond this consideration lies the fact that some people have chosen not to be vaccinated. They are in the minority, as more than 81 per cent of the Maltese population have taken the jab, putting Malta top of the list in the world in per capita terms.

They have made their choice, but then one hopes that they will not complain about decisions that “favour” people who are vaccinated.

For example, we already have a situation in which unvaccinated people who arrive in Malta must follow quarantine procedures, whereas people who are vaccinated can enter the country freely.

Now the government is planning to reduce the time vaccinated people need to spend in quarantine if they come in contact with a person who tested positive to Covid-19. Health Minister Chris Fearne said that there are plans to reduce quarantine time from 14 days to five days for vaccinated people.

There are other issues that have been brought up since last Saturday’s protest. A doctor and Labour Party candidate Malcolm Paul Agius Galea asked whether he and his colleagues have a right to choose not to see patients who are not vaccinated and who present themselves with Covid-19 symptoms.

The doctor also asked: “Do I have the right to go out with my children, who are still too young to get vaccinated, without having to worry that they could be exposed to COVID-19? Don’t I have the right to hope that my children won’t need to wear a mask because they are protected by those of us who could take the vaccine and did?” 

There are other questions that could be asked: Can restaurants refuse to accept unvaccinated people? Can workplaces make a distinction between employees who are vaccinated and others who are not?

Questions which raise important matters and which should be addressed by the authorities.

Because people who are voluntarily not taking the jab are voluntarily putting other people’s lives at risk. If they can choose not to be vaccinated, others should be in a position to make choices to protect themselves.

 

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