How have vaccines become as divisive as Trump once was?

Phumlani M. Majozi says you can be both pro-vaccine and opposed to mandates

It was President Trump who divided us, it is now COVID19 vaccines 

Donald Trump’s rise to political power and to the presidency of the world’s superpower, the United States of America (USA), broke families and friendships. Trump was either hated, or admired, all over the world. The mainstream media houses from Cable News Network (CNN), to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), to Der Spiegel, were instrumental in fuelling divisions over Trump around the world.

The Trump era is gone, with little chance of coming back. What is now dividing us, is COVID19 vaccines.

Pro-vaxxers and anti-vaxxers loathe each other – to the extent that they celebrate each other’s death. That this is happening is chilling and shameful, at least in my opinion. Whoever celebrates other peoples’ death should hang their head in shame.

What I have witnessed, is that it is largely the people from the Left that celebrate the death of those who elect not to vaccinate against the COVID19 pandemic.

By the Left, I mean the folks who believe in the expansion of the powers and of the size of the state in the economy and in our society in general.

Look, everybody has, or at least must have, a right to express their views on the scale at which the state should meddle in our lives. The problem begins when people from the Left become intolerant of other peoples' differing views. Those who philosophically or intellectually disagree or oppose the Left's narrative of human interaction, are insulted and called names. This troubling intolerance sweeps across democracies around the globe.

It usually manifests on matters regarding how economies should be organized, how education should be organized, how nations' borders should be managed, family breakdown matters, and, over the past year, it has manifested on how governments ought to respond to the COVID19 pandemic.

During this past year of COVID, the people who opposed and still oppose lockdowns, were accused, largely by the Left, of not taking the pandemic seriously.

Now the noise is about COVID19 vaccines. The Left hounds those who, for a myriad of reasons, elect not to vaccinate, and blanket labels them as anti-vaxxers. 

I was unfairly portrayed as an anti-vaxxer on Twitter recently.

Like an estimated 70%-80% of other South Africans I have already had COVID, and so have some members of my family. We have acquired significant natural immunity to Covid the hard way.

I recently tweeted “Go vaccinate! Go go go! I’m not going. I’ll only go if I’m forced. I choose to eat healthy, exercise a lot, take vitamins.”

The intolerant Left pounded on me. One despicable person went as far as saying “A friend had the same theory. He is no longer with us.” Can you believe it? These are very disturbing comments. Fear mongering of the highest degree.

Just to clear things up, I am not an anti-vaxxer. I have criticized Cyril Ramaphosa’s mishandling of the COVID procurement process. South Africa's vaccination program was unnecessarily delayed until we were well into the Third Wave, and I was not happy with that. It thus arrived after much of the population had already been infected with COVID, according to Discovery, and many people died who could have been saved.

What is even more maddening is that when the pandemic's third wave arrived in the country, the government unfairly put the blame on the citizens for the spread of the virus. No, the problem has been the government's disgraceful incompetence,  not the citizens. Citizens have acted as human beings - and the government, led by the ANC, failed to execute its responsibilities in a competent manner.

Having expressed my support for the vaccines, I must be crystal clear. I do not believe any citizen should be forced to take the COVID19 vaccine, and especially those who have already had the disease.

Human choice – so long as it does not affect other people without their consent – is paramount. If you have natural immunity from prior infection or are vaccinated, you are, at least to an extent, now protected against the pandemic. Good for you! And if you have zero immunity to the disease, and choose not to get vaccinated, you should be prepared for the consequences of your decision.

I totally oppose vaccine mandates. South Africans should not be forced by anybody – to take COVID19 vaccines. Our energy must be invested in changing hearts and minds – not force. I believe every individual who believes in personal freedom should oppose vaccine mandates. When private businesses force their employees to vaccinate, as Discovery has chosen to do, they must be challenged.

Andrew Kenny wrote a very interesting article published in the Daily Friend recently. He said "the vaccines have so far done far more good than harm". He further pleaded "honest discussion and full disclosure of all facts and evidence" on COVID vaccinations and the adverse effects we have heard of. It is one of the very few sensible articles I have read recently.

No facts or discussions should be censored by the media, and by tech companies. Many people will keep hesitating to take the jab if censorship continues.

The proponents of COVID19 vaccines can advise people to take the jab, but they should not advocate for mandates. I advise people to take the vaccine all the time – even my relatives.

Go vaccinate! But don't hound and demonize those who choose not to. We do not have to hate each other over this. 

I had hoped that we learned from the Trump era that intolerance toward matters of public policy, personal decision making, is not helpful for our society. It seems we never learned.

One more thing to add. If you support vaccine mandates, better remember this: one day, one day, they will mandate something that you do not want to participate in – and that will be painful.

We should strive for a society with less and less government mandates, not more. Hence we must discourage COVID vaccine mandates. We must do that now!

Phumlani M. Majozi is a senior fellow at African Liberty. His website is phumlanimajozi.com. Follow him on Twitter: @PhumlaniMMajozi