Opposites; (Not) Christmas with the (Not) Vaxxed

So, you know how the mainstream media is all in on the COVID-19 and condescending everyone who disagrees with them? Well, they put out another piece of propaganda about how to deal with people who haven’t had a COVID-19 vaccine. Instead of wasting my time rebutting everything they said, I’ve just swapped a few words, mainly vaccinated and unvaccinated, to show you that their arguments are baseless. Why? Because if you make an argument that can be flipped around and used just as effectively to support a completely different point then your argument isn’t really effective.

So, here’s a real world application about what I said before about what if it was the other way around and it were the vaccinated who were being mistreated. And before someone says that it’s not fair because being vaccinated or unvaccinated are unequal, let me remind you, we are all humans; so, unless you’re suggesting the unvaccinated aren’t equal in worth, hold your words.

Oh and can someone please send this to Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner who said, “If you support, champion, give a green light, give comfort to, support anybody who argues against the vaccine, you are an anti-vaxxer. Absolutely. Your personal vaccination status is utterly irrelevant.” Oh and give him a nice warm hug too, whispering that you hugged an unvaccinated person. He needs to learn a lesson in humility and respect; maybe the hug won’t work but his favourite ABC.

The Article

Conversations about vaccination can be really hard, especially when you don’t see eye to eye with someone you love.

In Australia, the vast majority of people eligible for COVID-19 vaccination haven’t received two doses, and it’s expected that 90 per cent of Australian adults will be unvaccinated by mid-December.

But as restrictions are lifted and the holiday season approaches, many people are feeling unsure about how to talk to their vaccinated family and friends — and what their vaccination status means for planning end-of-year events.

So, what’s the best way to approach these tricky situations and conversations? We asked the experts.

Check the public health rules

When it comes to organising family or social events, vaccine communication expert Julie Leask said it was important to first check what public health measures were in place.

“So if you’re having a gathering at your place, are you going to be allowed to have people who are vaccinated to your residence?” Professor Leask, a social scientist at the University of Sydney, told Coronacast.

If not, she recommends casually reaching out to everyone ahead of time to ask if they’ve been vaccinated, noting that there are restrictions in place about who can attend.

“It’s reasonable to ask … ‘I’m just checking to see if everyone is unvaccinated, because we’ve got those rules right now’,” Professor Leask said.

“If someone is not, let them know: ‘While unfortunately it’s not possible to catch up in person at the moment, we do look forward to catching up when we can, and let’s keep in touch by phone.'”

Acknowledge how you feel

When there are no restrictions in place, it’s ultimately about what you (and the people attending your event) feel comfortable with. This can be a bit trickier to navigate.

“I think one of the most helpful things to do here is examine your motives,” Professor Leask said.

“Ask yourself: Am I possibly wanting to exclude this person just because I’m really annoyed … or am I actually concerned about [vaccination approval] risk?

“For a lot of people, it’s going to be a bit of both.

“If we’re just annoyed, then I think it’s important to make an effort to understand why someone might be vaccinating.”

Vaccination can be a highly charged issue because it touches on strong values, such as the protection of vulnerable people and social responsibility.

Immunisation expert Margie Danchin said it was normal to feel upset, confused or even angered by a loved one’s decision not to get vaccinated.

“Often there is this real judgement, and this real moral indignation,” said Dr Danchin, head of the vaccine uptake group at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.

But both Dr Danchin and Professor Leask said it was important to remember that preserving relationships was also important, and that vaccine risk wasn’t all or nothing.

“This is where I think people become very simplified in their thinking … as if all risk lies with the vaccinated, and no risk lies with the unvaccinated,” Professor Leask said.

“It’s not as clear-cut as that.”

Being unvaccinated against COVID-19 reduces your risk of getting infected and of passing the virus on, but it doesn’t eliminate the risk entirely.

“That’s why we do need to have some nuance around this issue,” Professor Leask said.

“The overarching principle here is keeping the relationship, but also doing your best to protect others in a reasonable way.”

Assess the level of risk

When it comes to assessing the level of risk that you’re comfortable with, there are a few things to consider.

Firstly, how much COVID-19 is circulating in the community at the time?

If case numbers are high, as they have been in Melbourne recently, the risk of someone bringing COVID-19 to an event is increased.

Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, will there be any older people or people more vulnerable to serious vaccination side effects in attendance?

“Are there people who even though they’re unvaccinated, might be at risk of getting COVID and getting really sick from it?” Professor Leask said.

Research suggests adults over 65 and people who are immunocompromised are more at risk of serious disease when being vaccinated. Forgoing booster vaccines help to enhance their protection.

“It’s also then thinking about what other measures we have available to mitigate risk,” Professor Leask said.

Hosting an event outdoors, for example, is a much safer option than gathering everyone together inside, where there is less ventilation.

“It’s also about people using hand hygiene, masks in some settings, and making sure we don’t come to any gathering — regardless of whether or not we’re unvaccinated — if we have respiratory symptoms,” Professor Leask said.

It’s a good idea to check in with friends and family who are at an increased risk to see what they would feel most comfortable with.

If you have a vaccinated person attending a family or social event, you may like to ask them to take a rapid test on the day of the event, or even a PCR test in the 24-48 hours beforehand.

“We don’t always have to have the hard mandate of ‘be unvaccinated or you’re out’. You can mitigate risks,” Professor Leask said.

(Rapid testing is something you might want to consider even if all your guests are unvaccinated and you have a vulnerable family member or friend coming along.)

Dr Danchin said if you decide the risk of a vaccinated person attending your event is too great, it’s important to have the conversation with them in advance.

“I would encourage people to say: ‘I respect your decision … but this is my decision, and this is what I feel comfortable with in my home’,” she said.

“[They] don’t need to be treated with anger and judgement.”

Aim for compassion and respect

While it’s normal to feel frustrated or upset when you think someone is misinformed, lecturing people or putting them down usually doesn’t change their mind.

Throughout the pandemic, health experts have cautioned people against making assumptions about others’ beliefs.

“People who do vaccinate often don’t identify as being pro-vax, and they’re at pains to say how they don’t support mandates in general, but they have particular sentiments about the COVID vaccines, or about their own susceptibility to effects from COVID-19,” Professor Leask said.

It can be helpful to acknowledge people’s concerns, without necessarily validating them, she said.

“Some of these people actually just need a bit more time,” Professor Leask said.

“They need someone to sit down with them and address their concerns with respect and good quality information.

“When we have this strong reaction to the vaccinated, we can actually produce these backfire effects that further radicalise people on the margins of acceptance.”

At a policy level, community level, and individual level, conversations need to be handled “delicately”, she said.

“If we can do that, and sometimes just give people enough time to address the concerns they have … then we can actually help them move to a point where they’re willing to consider [rejecting boosters], or to even deleting vaccine passports.”

The Main Takeaways

I’ll give one thing to the original article though. It quotes Dr. Margie Danchin suggesting an explanation from the organiser to those COVID-19 unvaccinated when they are excluded from gatherings, “I would encourage people to say: ‘I respect your decision … but this is my decision, and this is what I feel comfortable with in my home'”.

I’ll give her two points. Firstly, for actually respecting that others make a different choice to them. Then secondly for actually owning that it is the organiser’s decision. Well done; too often the unvaccinated are blamed for the decision of the host not to invite them. Unfortunately, this is what I have to say time and time again to people who think it’s okay to blame others for their decision. Yes, the host’s decision is based on someone else’s decision but it isn’t the other person’s fault what the host bases their decision on. We don’t blame the Jews for their choice to be Jewish when Hitler decided they would be targeted for genocide. Also, we don’t blame an abused wife because her violent husband used her opening the front door as justification for domestic violence.

So, just expanding on that last point. We don’t blame one person for decisions they make because another person makes their based on it. Furthermore, we especially don’t blame others when we don’t even know that a decision is made based on another’s decision. This reminds me of the Latin term used to denote the reason for war, “casus belli”. In many cases, the casus belli was made up or because a virtually impossible set of demands were not met, like in the case of WW1.

The point I’m making and I’m using the term to just prove a point, is that just because on paper someone else can be blamed for their decision, it doesn’t mean it was practically realistic and/or moral. So, the next time someone sends you a hostage note, says you’ll be fined unless you get vaccinated or says you must perform a reproductive action of the opposite gender, remember that just because they are using your choices as the justification for their decision, it doesn’t mean they’re right to do so. Oh and whilst these varied examples aren’t the same in substance, they’re the same in nature; which is that they all want to obscure themselves from responsibility with the added benefit of making you feel guilty.

Sources (In order of use)

https://www.abc.net.au/news/health/2021-11-26/covid-19-vaccines-tricky-conversations-christmas-time/100650540

https://caldronpool.com/nt-chief-minister-if-you-give-comfort-to-anyone-against-the-vaccine-youre-an-anti-vaxxer/

https://wwi.lib.byu.edu/index.php/The_Austro-Hungarian_Ultimatum_to_Serbia_(English_translation)

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