Most new words that appear out of nowhere are as irritating and annoying as the people that constantly use them; others, however, may have a brief shelf-life but nevertheless sum up a moment with jaded genius. ‘Smombies’ was one such word that had its moment around five years ago, coined to perfectly describe the Smartphone junkies who can’t avert their gaze from their precious appendages even when strolling down the street. And now another new ‘un has materialised that splendidly sums up a phenomenon that is entirely contemporary and couldn’t have existed as recent as this time last year – ‘Vaxhole’. The accompanying definition reads ‘One who has been fully vaccinated for the Covid-19 virus and brags about it. Two weeks after that second shot and the Vaxhole is posting selfies from a Cancun bar.’ Whoever came up with Vaxhole – and I only saw it myself as a screen-grabbed post on a forum – I salute you. It’s a word that was badly needed.
The fad for people feeling the need to advertise their stint at doing something millions of other people have done, as though it’s something utterly unique and worthy of applause, is just the latest extension of commonplace trends that have long been prevalent across social media. It’s a mix of virtue-signalling and the self-important celebration of the mundane familiar to anyone who regularly uses Facebook or Twitter; whether temporarily adopting the flag of whatever happens to be the cause of the week (What’s it to be – the EU or Palestine?) as one’s FB profile picture or posting maps of one’s location if out for a meal (and an image of said meal), it’s basically pure ‘look at me’ narcissism. I’m sure there are already T-shirts and baseball caps on the market that say something along the lines of ‘I’ve Had the Vaccine’; the banal conceit of such a statement contains the same twee, infantile vacuity of those badges on children’s birthday cards that say ‘I am 7’, yet simultaneously throws down an aggressive gauntlet, challenging someone else to declare they haven’t had the Vaccine.
To paraphrase a tweet I saw a couple of days ago, when did vaccinations cease to be about protecting one’s self – which is surely their purpose – and instead become all about protecting others? If you haven’t had the vaccine, you’re to blame for every dead granny (rather than a government that flooded care homes with infected pensioners, of course); regardless of whether your own personal constitution actually requires vaccinating against Covid, to even contemplate your body as your property – which has always been the pro-abortion argument, for example – is somehow regarded as treasonous in some quarters. The politicisation of this coronavirus, which seemed to begin around a month before Lockdown I, is now so engrained that it almost feels as though it’s yet another string on the bow of the Culture Wars, another missile to be hurled across the barricades at the evil opposition; to proudly display one’s vaccine cattle branding is as political a gesture as demanding people be placed under house arrest was a year ago, just something else that acts as evidence of the good guys’ righteousness and virtue.
I guess, as with everything else that has been unnecessarily politicised during the post-2016 period, politicising the vaccine does no favours for either side of the argument; it gives over-exposure to the fanatics in both camps so that minority extremist opinions are portrayed as representing everyone either in favour of or opposed to mass vaccination, negating nuance and neutralising all debate in the process. Black & white heroes and villains make for better copy, I suppose. A Covid vaccine of some sort was undeniably required for those most vulnerable to the virus, whether that vulnerability stemmed from old age or (to borrow a once-overused term) those with ‘underlying health conditions’. It was a given that few would dispute. To those susceptible to the virus, Covid was (and remains) deadly. But now that the advertising campaign for the vaccine has been extended to include the world and his wife – regardless of however healthy, young and barely at-risk from Covid they might be – to question the real need for it beyond the vulnerable has almost acquired the medieval heretical status of denying the existence of God.
We are not yet at the stage whereby people who have decided they don’t need the vaccine are being physically forced to submit to it, but there is certainly immense subliminal pressure to conform being channelled through MSM and online outlets 24/7. Again, the decision whether or not to receive the vaccine is now no longer an act of autonomy based upon what the individual believes is personally best for him or her, but what is best for everyone else. That seems a fittingly collectivist attitude for a virus that was gifted to the world by a Communist super-power.
Project Fear has convinced many that anyone who happens to be vaccine-free should basically be exiled to a leper colony, prevented from interacting with anyone who has had the jab – even though anyone who’s had it should, in theory, be safe from being contaminated by somebody who hasn’t. Whether or not the vaccine-free actually have Covid or not is all-but academic to this mindset. Some of the fire & brimstone death wishes aimed at the vaccine-reluctant sound depressingly similar to the deranged curses placed upon Leavers by Remainers barely a couple of years ago, which shows how the coronavirus and its vaccine have been reduced to the latest chapter in an ongoing saga we’ve been living for five years now. The ‘vaccine passport’ is another symptom, another tool of pressure to force doubters into submission by preventing them from venturing anywhere farther afield than their local high-street if they dare to question perceived wisdom. It’s little more than glorified emotional blackmail.
Anyone travelling to countries in Latin America, Africa or Asia where malaria is rife naturally takes precautions against the disease via pre-journey shots; but receiving anti-malaria jabs if one won’t be visiting any of those countries would be rightly viewed as a pointless exercise. Similarly, when it comes to anyone whose work is undertaken in claustrophobic and crowded environments that are prime Petrie dishes for super-spreading, it probably makes as much sense for them to receive the Covid vaccine as it would for the elderly, the ill and the party animal whose social life entails close contact with hundreds of people. If none of those scenarios apply to an individual who is in general good health and is not routinely susceptible to influenza or the common cold, should he or she then be pressurised into receiving a vaccine they don’t necessarily need simply to satisfy the demands of wider society?
The latest variant, which we all knew would come along right at the very moment when restrictions were poised to be lifted, is being painted as the sole obstacle between freedom and backtracking towards lockdown; encouraging a close examination as to how the Indian Variant has been allowed to spread despite all the restrictions might expose a few uncomfortable truths, so the vaccine-resister is thrust into the firing line – the perfect patsy for all those understandably frustrated by the thought of going through it all over again. And anyone who dies courtesy of this variant will therefore have been killed by someone who decided their own physical health was robust enough to negate vaccination.
Whether or not a person chooses to take out a full-page ad on social media declaring they’ve had the vaccine or whether they’ve received it and decide to keep that fact to themselves should be up to them; having to nail one’s colours to one more mast – as was deemed essential during the Brexit Wars – just takes us back to divide & rule, pitting people against each other in angry little groups because it’s so much easier to manipulate them that way. A vaccine should not be a political or ideological weapon. It’s just a shame it now is.
© The Editor