Published:

Georgia L. Gilholy is a Young Voices UK contributor.

Despite what David Icke and Kate Shemirani might have shrieked in Trafalgar Square on Saturday, Covid-19 is very much a real disease.

It has been responsible for many thousands of deaths across the world, and thus the UK’s speedy vaccine scheme, now capable of inoculating almost every age group, is a good thing.

Of course, it makes sense that the elderly and those with health conditions that make them especially vulnerable to the disease are sensible to take the vaccine. Likewise, anyone who sees fit should be able to choose to access it, including young people. I myself have taken the first dose, admittedly for the purposes of convenience rather than concern for my health, as I will likely be required to travel internationally either for work or because I would very much like to see a close friend of mine who lives abroad.

However, it makes zero sense to blackmail young, healthy people – who have less chance of dying from the disease than from a surprise accident – into taking the vaccine, or risk being barred from attending university and any other indoor public place worth the effort of leaving one’s front door for. 

If the Government is willing to essentially deprive young people of their freedoms for the sake of “protecting” them from an infinitesimal chance of death, why not deprive them of their liberty if they do not have jabs for various other diseases, many of which are much more dangerous? Why not require breathalyser tests before driving?

It is up to the individual whether they are injected with a certain medicine, and the Government is absolutely unjustified in forcing inoculation against what is a largely low-risk disease. If the vaccine is effective, it is unlikely that a segment of healthy, unvaccinated individuals risk the rest of the population through passing on the disease, or indirectly by overwhelming health services.

This kind of Government overreach is likely to increase rather than mitigate so-called vaccine hesitancy, especially in the case of groups highly unlikely to suffer adversely from the virus. Threatening young people to “take the vaccine or else!” sets the groundwork for reducing confidence in the Government’s rationale, and thus emboldens the “this is all just a conspiracy to inject us with 5G” crowd.

People must be persuaded by arguments, and not by un-personing the unvaccinated via a Chinese-style social credit system of vaccination passports, and tracking our behaviour through digital identity cards. If people are offered a vaccine that they see as necessary, especially if it is free, they will take it. It is as simple as that. 

While far too many people are ambivalent about such measures, or even see them as an understandable way of improving public health, they are a danger to society. The reality is that once the precedent has been set for such life-altering invasions into our privacy, there is generally no going back, and such systems are obviously ripe for far more sinister purposes than handing out free vouchers because we bought a salad instead of a pizza.

This is not about improving lives. It is about control. If the Government was really concerned with what is “best” for young people, and thus the future of society as a whole, it would perhaps focus on the fact that we are already in the grip of a mental health crisis that has reaped devastating impacts on the young.

80,226 more children and young people were referred to Children and Young People’s Mental Health Services between April and December last year, up by 28 per cent in 2019, to 372,438. According to the Office for National Statistics, almost one in 14 people aged 16 or over in Great Britain report being lonely, up 40 per cent since spring 2020. 

Our priority should be getting all of us, especially young people out and about, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated or not. Blackmailing us to get jabbed or stay inside as we already have done for the best part of two years, is surely more dangerous than us wandering around unvaccinated.