The Covid jab

David Bullard reflects on the debate between those who doubt the vaccine and those who demand it


I haven’t had a flu jab for as long as I can remember. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever had a flu jab in all my time in South Africa so that comes to exactly forty years. My medical aid scheme dangled all sorts of inducements to try and persuade me to have one, including extra points which would all add up and entitle me to a 35% discount on airfares. Even that didn’t seduce me and my auto-immune system has struggled on for all this time without the aid of a vaccine.

As a result, have I been terribly ill during our harsh South African winters and barely able to drag myself out of bed in the morning? Well, actually, no I haven’t. In fact I can’t remember the last time I even had a heavy cold and had to stay confined to bed. That may be due to the onset of early dementia of course but since most of my better quality hangovers are still vivid memories I think we can rule that one out.

What I do remember is that I had my last flu vaccine in the UK in 1979 and a few weeks later I was confined to bed and barely able to move for almost two weeks. I managed to make it home to my parent’s house in Suffolk and was nursed back to health with plenty of chicken broth and motherly sympathy. Like most men, I become a very pathetic patient.

I have no idea whether the flu jab of 1979 was related to my subsequent bout of really debilitating flu or whether I had contracted a different and more determined variant but it didn’t do much to win me over to the idea of a future flu jab.

My decision to decline a flu vaccination over the years has been respected as a personal choice and no pressure has been brought to bear (other than the sacrifice of 1 000 Discovery Vitality points) to get vaccinated. I haven’t been told that I’m a selfish bastard and that I am putting other people’s lives at risk by refusing a flu jab.

The rather more liberal attitude has been ‘on your own head be it but don’t come wheezing to us when you’re coughing your guts up and struggling to breathe’. Like many things in life, it was a calculated risk and I calculated that my continuing survival meant that I didn’t need a flu vaccination. And, thus far, I’ve been proven correct.

However the narrative regarding the COVID-19 vaccination is very different and altogether more terrifying and totalitarian. Even quasi-libertarian websites like the Daily Friend have carried hectoring articles declaring that it’s “morally reprehensible” to refuse the vaccine.

The mainstream media have gone even further labeling those with nagging doubts about the efficacy of a questionable vaccine yet to be distributed by a morally bankrupt government as ‘anti-vaxxers’; a label which, with enough repeated usage, will soon rank alongside ‘racist’ and ‘homophobe’ and allow those thus labeled to be regarded as worthy of society’s contempt and spat upon in public.

There have even been suggestions that those who refuse a COVID vaccination should not be allowed out in public for fear they could be deliberate super-spreaders bent on reducing the global population. Already, a couple of airlines have indicated that proof of a COVID vax will be necessary when booking a ticket on their airline, should it ever fly again. It’s only a matter of time I suppose before the more hysterical extremists insist that ‘anti-vaxxers’ are branded with a mark on their foreheads and compelled to carry a bell in public rather like lepers.

The strange thing is that I’m not anti COVID vaccinations at all. Obviously I would love to know which one works best and whether I need to have an annual booster. I have no qualms about the speedy development and approval of any of the vaccines and put this down to increased urgency as a result of the pandemic and greater efficiency when it comes to approving a vaccine for use.

I am well aware of the nuttier conspiracy theories and fully accept that my DNA may be permanently altered or I may become an unwitting vassal of Bill Gates should I stray too close to a 5G mast. At my age this is exactly what one needs to make life more interesting.

Where I do have a problem is being told that I must have a COVID vaccine … or else. I have just survived almost a year of the COVID pandemic with its two waves and the dreaded South African mutation. I may not have washed my hands as often as recommended and I certainly haven’t led a hermit’s life. I have worn a mask in public places, dosed up with supplements and vitamins and sensibly avoided people with coughs and sneezes and I haven’t agonized over the fact that the COVID virus can live on a piece of plastic for 72 hours or however long it is. So, having survived the plague thus far is there any reason to think that a COVID jab would make much difference?

Since we have very limited supplies of vaccine in this country all of this is largely academic and I don’t anticipate I’ll even be eligible for a COVID jab until mid 2022 anyway. By which time a new pandemic will be sweeping the world and the conspiracy theorists will no doubt be blaming it on the COVID vaccine.


President Frogboiler’s default setting when the going gets tough and members of his inner circle start thinking of mutiny is to turn the conversation around to gender based violence (the scourge thereof) and to ramble on about how wonderful it would be to empower women and get more of them in the boardroom and running key businesses, along with disabled people and members of the LGBTQI+ ‘community’.

This apparently is the solution to our economic woes and the real problem in the past, probably when South Africa was a force to be reckoned with in mining, is that the white patriarchy were running the show and making obscene profits.

Now profits have been officially recognized as undesirable it’s time for a change and the aforementioned previously disadvantaged must be given an opportunity at running things, preferably without the interference of this terrible thing called the patriarchy.

I must say that I’m with Pres Frogboiler on the issue of female advancement in the business environment. I am proud to boast that I was well ahead of the curve on this one and as long ago as the early 1990’s served on a board of directors which was 50% female. I was the other director.

But government setting quotas for female representation in business is a recipe for disaster (as is any government interference in business) as the Dutch are about to find out. According to an article in The Spectator:

“A law is being tabled in parliament which would force listed companies to have at least a third of women (or, indeed, a third of men) on their supervisory boards. Another 5,000 Dutch companies will need to come up with ‘appropriate and ambitious’ measures for increasing female leadership. Meanwhile a government website now showcases board-ready Topvrouwen (top women) to take up these posts. And, in a real departure from the norm, there will be sanctions: if a listed company doesn’t have enough women on the board, any new male appointee will be rejected, in what is known as the ‘empty seat principle’. Firms will also be required to report gender statistics on a website open to all for scrutiny”.

One of the arguments put forward by the supporters of this social tinkering is that many women miss out on managerial opportunities because of the demands of family, citing unhelpful school hours and childcare costs. If it weren’t for having to prepare dinner for the kiddies and feed the family cat many Dutch women could be blazing a trail in big business apparently.

Surely that is what used to be called a lifestyle choice. I know of a few hard nosed businesswomen who decided not to have children because they preferred to climb the greasy corporate pole. Whether they later regretted the decision who knows? I also know quite a few successful women who would fight like wild cats to stay off a company’s board. Why on earth would you want to open yourself to the scrutiny of nosy business journalists and play office politics when you can sell your skills as a consultant to a company and make the same amount of money?

The problem with issuing a decree that a third of a company’s board must be women – or else there will be hell to pay – is if the supply of candidates just isn’t there. Whether or not the Dutch have run secret tests to determine that a company runs more efficiently and profitably when a third of the board members are women isn’t known. My guess though is that the government advisory body recommending this is top heavy with woke males.

The government has threatened to ‘name and shame’ companies that don’t meet this quota and there will almost certainly be financial penalties too.

All of which means that it may be necessary to bully reluctant women into taking up board positions. And who will be doing the bullying? Why the patriarchy of course.

On the other hand the Dutch could adopt the tried and tested South African quota system and just pay the required number of women an enormous amount of money to put their names on the masthead and do and say nothing.