The incomprehensible hatred for “the anti-vaxers”

“I’m massively hostile to the anti-vaxers. Love the Singapore idea of making them pay for their hospital treatment. Or if that’s too strong the Greek idea of fining the elderly 85 pounds for every month they refuse the vaccine. Something must be done.”

So reads a tweet from last year, which has been making the rounds because its author (hypocritically) recently complained that his latest covid vaccine made him more sick than actually getting covid. 

There are numerous problems with this tweet.

First, the author equates “anti-vaxers” with people who choose not to get the Covid vaccine. This is erroneous, because choosing not to do something is not the same as being opposed to the thing. A person can fully support the fact that vaccines exist and are widely available, while themselves choosing not to get one. Apparently, the idea of people being able to make their own choices is a difficult concept for this tweeter to grasp. 

Second, I disagree with the implication that making vaccine-free people pay for “hospital treatment” is a harsher policy than fining them each month. In my opinion, fining people for the mere fact that they decline the vaccine is by far the harsher (and therefore much more unjust and morally wrong) of the two policies. Holding people financially responsible for medical services that they receive is, arguably, not a punishment at all, but merely the default. After all, for products and services in general, it is typical that when a person purchases a product or service, they are expected to pay for it. When it comes to medical services, it is common for either an insurance company or the government to pay, but holding the individual person financially responsible is not so much a punishment, as the withholding of a benefit. On the other hand, fining a person for declining a medical procedure is directly and indisputably punishing a person for their personal medical decision. It is, therefore, an egregious violation of fundamental human rights. This is much more severe than merely withholding a benefit. Plus, for vaccine-free people who do not ever end up requiring “hospital treatment” for Covid (most likely the vast majority!), the Singapore policy would not negatively affect them at all. That policy only has a negative financial effect on people who are unlucky enough to get a severe enough case of Covid that they go to a hospital. The Greek policy, on the other hand, directly punishes all old people who decline the vaccine, regardless of whether they end up getting severely sick from Covid, or even whether they end up getting Covid at all. This, again, is much more severe than a policy that only affects the few people who happen to get a very severe case of Covid.

Third, people do not “refuse the vaccine.” They choose not to get the vaccine. Semantics matter.

But most important of all is the fact that the overall sentiments expressed in this tweet are absolutely incomprehensible to me. How on earth could someone be “massively hostile” to people who are doing absolutely nothing wrong? To people who are simply going about their lives and minding their own business? How could someone be “massively hostile” towards people for declining a medical procedure? Declining medical procedures is something that people have a fundamental human right to do. How could someone feel hostility towards people for simply going without a particular medical intervention? I just don’t get it.

And why exactly must something be done about the fact that people have declined a medical procedure? People have a fundamental right to make their own medical decisions. People have a fundamental right to decline medical procedures. If a person doesn’t wish to get a medical procedure, then for them to decline the medical procedure is exactly what makes sense. It is exactly the way that things should be. Why would someone consider this a problem? I just don’t understand this way of thinking.

In short, I am “massively hostile” to people who engage in this intolerant, nasty, and authoritarian way of thinking. It is this way of thinking, not people who decline the vaccine, that something must be done about.