By Rachael Parsons, Vaxxter contributor
Guilt, embarrassment, cowardice and shaming for the “common good” are likely to be ways the Covid-19 vaccine-promoters will use to encourage vaccine up-take.
Communitarianism is a philosophy that emphasizes the connection between the individual and the community. Its overriding philosophy is based upon the belief that a person’s social identity and personality are largely molded by community relationships, with a smaller degree of development being placed on individualism.
Communitarianism will no doubt come into full swing as governments and vaccine-producers push the “everyone needs to be vaccinated so we can get back to normal” narrative when a Covid-19 vaccine is ready for distribution. Already, three US doctors say being vaccinated against coronavirus is a patriotic duty and must be done for the Common Good. There are calls to make it increasingly difficult for people who refuse the vaccine to participate in society.
Exploring the Guilt Message
Yale University is currently undertaking a study to test different messaging techniques to persuade Americans to take a Covid-19 vaccine. The study includes examining the use of the following types of messages: guilt, trust in science, embarrassment, anger, not being brave, community interest, economic benefit, personal and economic freedom and self-interest. Joe Martino of Collective Evolution says this research, being done in conjunction with the US Government, shows pharmaceutical companies and authorities now realize they have to work harder to convince people to take vaccines.
American researchers found that, early-on, 66% of Americans said they would get vaccinated if a Covid-19 vaccine became available. The study showed more men than women felt comfortable receiving the vaccine. A separate survey revealed 44% of Americans said they would take it, 22% said they were unsure and 32% said they would not.
In Australia, a Newcom.au survey found that only 46% of Australians who the survey said they would take a Covid-19 vaccine. Intestinglyly, a 9-News Sydney poll found that 75% of Australians said they would take the vaccine. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said 95% of Australians would need to take the vaccine for it to work. In New Zealand, a Massey University student has found that 75% of New Zealanders said they would take a Covid-19 vaccine. The research found that only half would be prepared to pay for it and people would need reassurance that it was safe.
For the “team” and “common good”
In New Zealand, which currently has stringent “stamp it out” Covid-19 policies in place, politicians appear to hope the country will as a whole take a Covid-19 vaccine for the common good. The “Team of 5 Million” mantra and PR slogan propagated by NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will still be ringing in citizen’s ears and they will band together as they did during lockdowns, authorities no doubt hope.
The team and common good approach is also being played by the medical and scientific world. Prominent New Zealand microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles suggested Australian celebrity Chef Pete Evans was “selfish” when he admitted he visited his mum during the lockdown, breaking restrictions and “putting her at risk at catching Covid-19 and potentially dying”. She also rejected his assertion that he would not be injected with a Covid-19 vaccine unless it could be proven to be 100% safe for everyone. Wiles claims vaccination is not about the individual but about taking a vaccine to protect other people who may not be able to take it. No matter how good your immune system is, you can still pass the virus onto someone else not protected and who could be killed, she claims. Wiles also uses words such as “dangerous” and “depressing” to describe Evans’ stance.
Currently, there are no mandatory vaccines in New Zealand although there is enormous pressure from the medical establishment, the government and strangely enough, the media, to vaccinate. During a 2019 measles epidemic, the media was scathing at those who chose not to vaccinate their children and blamed them for causing the epidemic. The same was true when measles hit Samoa, anti-vaxxers took a hit and reporting was extremely one-sided. Even adults considered topping up their earlier measles vaccinations as a precaution as the scaremongering and distortion trumpeted out.
Justifying Mandatory Vaccines
Public health could potentially trump individual rights, a recent Newshub article suggested in New Zealand. A Supreme Court decision found some public health measures when clearly justified could override the right to refuse medical treatment. And the New Zealand Government has made sure it can mandate a Covid-19 vaccine if the “team of 5 million” does not acquiesce. A senior minister recently conceded new amendments to the Covid-19 Health Response Bill could enable vaccines to be mandated if necessary.
Communitarianism and Vaccination
Late last century the term communitarianism was used to describe the social thinking within authoritarian societies. Individual rights are valued as far less important than the common good and social obligations. So translated to vaccinations, this view maintains people should be vaccinated for the good of others, even if they would rather not have a foreign substance injected into them.
What?! – aren’t you protected if you are vaccinated? Surely those who are not vaccinated only have themselves to blame if they contract an infection? Why not achieve herd immunity naturally – like they did in Sweeden – then and use proven treatments for the vulnerable?
Perhaps that is why authorities are finding it harder to convince people to accept vaccinations and are battling with “vaccine hesitancy” as they call it. The astute are clearly wondering what the real motivation is behind the vaccination program and preferring to trust natural immune systems rather than a syringe full of ingredients they have no control over.
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Rachael Parsons is a critical thinker and “real news” junkie from “Down Under”. She wrote for a New Zealand daily newspaper for eight years and also has a degree in teaching and learning and experience in business.