There is no substitute for information. Information is neutral, it doesn’t take sides, or play to the gallery. Information doesn’t show off. It is modest, unlike inexperience, which is rarely useful, especially in large doses.
When planning picnics or barbecues, people tend to pay attention to a weather forecaster’s guesswork: “It might not rain tomorrow.” Except in the Middle East, where the prerecorded forecast is, “It won’t rain tomorrow.” Told the weather will be blisteringly hot, holidaymakers buy sun cream and wide-brimmed hats, or go to Scotland instead. Oddly, some people who believe weather forecasts don’t believe in vaccination.
Most soldiers accept conscription into armies to defend their country in times of war. Imagine a squaddie saying, “Listen, Sergeant Major, I’d rather not do that, if you don’t mind, I didn’t join the army to peel potatoes.” His spud-bashing would soon become square-bashing, every day at dawn. And he would quickly learn not to hesitate when ordered to “Present arms.”
Or a police recruit not feeling up to walking the beat because his new shoes were pinching his feet — he would be told toot sweet to roll up his sleeves and start pinching villains and feeling collars. Perhaps also to get a jab while his sleeves were rolled up.
Have I belaboured the point laboriously enough? Which is, that vaccination is similar to a gun, insofar as it is better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it. Certain freedoms come at a price, even in a democracy, but of course we live in a world where scepticism and demur are endemic.
Hardly surprising, when it is estimated that on an average day all of us accept without question at least 10 things that are untrue. “You’re sure my new Bermuda shorts don’t look ridiculous?” (men) and “You really think these black shoes are slimming?” (women).
Help is at hand, from the past, as usual. The philosopher Immanuel Kant believed that reason was the source of morality, and there were moral laws all persons must follow. His famous one was that you should behave in such a way that your actions could be taken as a universal rule. “If you kill me, I’ll kill you,” sort of thing, although perhaps that’s not a very good example.
When it comes to vaccine-acceptance, the whole band must be playing the same tune or the result will be a racket, as if the strings were rendering ‘In the Mood’ (or ‘In the Arm’) and the drummer was beating out the closing credits from ‘Live and Let Die.’ Somebody might even shoot the piano player by mistake. Which would really rain on his parade. Except in the Middle East.