February 26.To lifelong republicans, the Queen is a continuing disappointment.
Not only is she still protecting us from the unpalatable prospect of Charles III, she remains capable of embodying essential truths amidst a national crisis.
As the vaccination programme spreads out across the population, voices are being raised about potential discrimination against those who decline the offer. The people in question are not those who for medical reasons should not be vaccinated, such as pregnant women. Nor those who have somehow fallen through the cracks in the official bureaucracy and are not on the radar of the NHS.
We are discussing those who have been invited, could have accepted, and have refused. As I have written in earlier posts, when attitude becomes choice, the numbers of those declining seem to be much smaller than was at first feared. Nonetheless they do exist, and may multiply as the programme reaches younger cohorts who do not feel much threatened by a death on a ventilator.
It is argued that they could suffer discrimination if vaccine passports are issued, denying them access to pubs, restaurants and other organised pleasures, or, in the form of some yet to be agreed documentation, travel to the beaches of Europe. Or they could face actions by employers who will only recruit those who can prove they are unlikely to infect fellow workers or customers of the enterprise. This is seen to be unjust in the case of those who have comprehensible long-term issues with secular authority, including the NHS.
I assume that the Monarch was at the head of the queue when the vaccination programme started, if only because of her age. But today she has made a public statement about her experience:
“Once you’ve had the vaccine, you have a feeling of, you know, you’re protected, which is I think very important. I think the other thing is, that it is obviously difficult for people if they’ve never had a vaccine … but they ought to think about other people rather than themselves.”
The morality is not complex, but it is fundamental to the struggle against Covid-19 since the first lockdown eleven months ago. In all parts of the country, in all walks of life, people have taken actions which cause private harm in the interests of public good. And give or take the odd illegal rave and concealed wedding, mostly they are still doing so.
The current debate about the non-vaccinated threatens to reverse that calculation. The harm that is discussed focusses wholly on the individual, their right to make up their own mind on the risks of illness, their right to oppose any kind of injection, their right to uphold long-held religious objections, their right to dwell in the playground of conspiracy theorists, their right to earn a living irrespective of the health of the larger workforce.
Someone has to point out that they are just making a wrong decision. The Queen has done so. And she has said why.