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Friday, September 17, 2021

Pissing in the public pool

Reading Time: 2 minutes 

The knock on the door from the delta variant of the COVID-19 virus has got louder over the past few months.

This has seen health authorities and political and community leaders scramble to get the vaccination message out.

Meanwhile, the communities have responded with vaccination rates now racing to 70% -80% of double dosage. Wonderful news, this opens the door to a somewhat normal life once again. The danger, however, lies in those who are vaccine deniers, and who, for one reason or another, are not willing to get vaccinated. Federal Liberal MPs including Andrew Laming and Russel Broadbent have signalled their unease with what some are calling “vaccine apartheid” – with people losing their jobs and being prevented from entering pubs and other venues if they haven’t gotten the jab. The question then is, do people have a right to refuse the jab, and still go about their business as usual?

The answer is, no. The action (or inaction) of this group impacts everyone else in society. To use a graphic metaphor, it is like going to a public pool, pissing quietly in the corner and assuming no one will be affected.

People may claim that they have a right to refuse vaccination. But that does not give them the right to put the lives of others at risk, nor to force the majority to pay for their bad decisions. Why should the soon-to-be majority of Australians accommodate those who refuse to take this simple step – especially now that we have an antidote to the virus?

READ ALSO: COVID vaccines: You cannot inoculate against irrational

With the highly contagious delta variant, the unvaccinated pose a deadly risk to others and themselves. Vaccinated workers, students, airline passengers and others who go out in public should not have to bear the risks and huge financial costs that the unvaccinated are imposing on society.

As a society, we already undertake social apartheid in many instances, and have learnt to live with this. Think of what we do with smokers. We are tough on smoking in public and in confined places where non-smokers have to breathe in the toxic fumes. We banned smoking in flights, we charge smokers higher insurance premiums.

The danger we face is a future wave of the pandemic of the unvaccinated – which will bring with it enormous lockdown costs, job losses as places of leisure and work shut down, disruption of schooling, financial flow-on effects as people struggle to pay rent and mortgages or lose their homes, and mental health pressures.

Meanwhile, as we dealt with the current lockdown and with the mammoth task of vaccinating the population, the ‘latte lines’ and ‘shisha lines’ that divide our cities became clearer than ever before. Perhaps some time in the future, social researchers will undertake a closer examination of why it was so difficult to break through to the populations in certain parts of Sydney and Melbourne at this challenging time.

Our governments at all levels, while paying lip service to multiculturalism and plurality, need to work harder in forging closer ties and better communications between the various groups into which our cities stand divided.

READ ALSO: We’ve lost the trust of Western Sydney and it’s critical we repair it


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Pawan Luthra
Pawan is the publisher of Indian Link and is one of Indian Link's founders. He writes the Editorial section.

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