It probably won’t get any kind of result, but a week or so back I made a complaint to that great faceless behemoth, Facebook, my first.
I reported an anti-vaxer. I got sick of a constant stream of messages from this person, each laden with emotive prose about the grave risk of getting the jab, “backed up” by strings of website links that supposedly supported her argument.
I told FB I not only didn’t want to hear from her again, but they should take a look at her activities, which seemed to breach the social media company’s rules about…well, something.
There’s been no news back, and I haven’t inquired. The block I put on Ms Anti-vaxer seems to be holding. I’m hoping she’s given up on me and is pestering somebody else.
You’ll have worked out where I stand on Covid-19 vaccination. Lin and I – and every other person we know – have had both jabs.
In case you’re wondering, we approached it with caution. We’re old enough to remember the thalidomide disaster, to recall as kids getting injections against polio (and knowing other kids who caught it), measles, diphtheria, whooping cough and other once-rampant afflictions that swept society periodically last century.
I was a medical reporter and columnist back in my Auckland Star days in the 1970s, and for three years from 2010 I spent two or three hours a day writing a blog about prostate cancer, my project being labelled one of the world’s best lay information sources by the Harvard Medical Library.
So I believe I know how to research medical stuff. And my reading (and Lin’s) supported the idea of getting the Pfizer vaccine as soon as it was available.
In case you’re wondering, the first prick had no noticeable impact, but the second last month left us both feeling a bit crook (strong Kiwi medical term) for a week.
Things in the world of vaccination development and application have moved on a lot, to say the least. Our study of how Covid vaccines were developed so rapidly convinced us the risks were no greater than they have ever been when it comes to applying medical treatment on a broad scale.
Someone, somewhere, will have a bad experience. Bad enough to kill them. But the chances are so remote as to place the risk factor below those generally in play every time we get out of bed in the morning.
My anti-vaxer acquaintance may have given up on me, but you can bet she’ll still be spreading her earnest message to others.
People like that never give up, because to do so is to concede a wrong turn somewhere, the weakening of a leap of faith that if questioned would bring their philosophy on human existence out into the glare of reason.
Those words are too grand to describe why some people are like that. In fact, they’re simply dumb. They’re as easily persuaded as religious fanatics, and greatly reinforced by endless opportunities offered by the internet to rotate within a silo of like-minded people.
If my language here is strong, then forgive me. I had a lot to do with the anti-vaccination brigade a decade or more back when I joined the Sunday Star-Times as acting chief reporter for a six-month stint.
I was first defence against anyone approaching the paper looking to pitch a story. Most came from public relations hacks, whose emails could be binned after a single glance at the first paragraph. But the anti-vaxers were different.
They mustered screeds of evidence to support their belief that not only does mass vaccination run counter to freedom of choice, but long-term risks from introducing any foreign substance to the body can never be predicted.
You can see how such vague but compelling arguments needed careful consideration, before – as invariably happened after I’d read the screeds, checked their origins, and compared them to my own research (in effect, lay person v lay person) – I would politely tell them to bugger off.
I don’t feel so polite these days. I’m with US columnist Leonard Pitts Jnr who writes of what’s happening there as the government introduces mandatory vaccination for its employees, like ours is now.
We’ll see the same whining here, the same complaints we saw when wearing a seat belt became mandatory last century, the laments about loss of freedom.
Goodbye, then. I don’t want you teaching my grandkids.