Covid-19: Get the vaccine or jail yourself at home

Soon President Cyril Ramaphosa will be announcing incentives for people who have actually gone and got themselves vaccinated. It’s a great move. We shouldn’t have to be incentivised when the downside of not being vaccinated is a high likelihood of being placed in a medical coma and intubated and/or dying, but this is South Africa.

Last weekend, a guest at a bachelor’s party on a game farm decided to hand feed a rhino some grass. The rhino was a mother with a calf at hoof. She had a sense of humour failure and tossed him out of the way using her horn. He landed on his ankle pulverising it. He’s lucky she didn’t stamp on it – or him. Then again, the same bunch of partygoers thought it might have been fun to strip the groom naked and tie him up in the veld, where there were other dangerous wild animals about.

Obviously, they knew the risks, but equally obviously they thought the risks didn’t apply to them. It’s tempting to wonder if these Darwin award finalists are also anti-vaxx; the same bunch who’ll swill sheep dip meant to rid farm animals of parasites, but call the rest of us sheep for getting vaccinated. They certainly fit the demographic of South Africa’s most notable anti-vaxx constituency.

It’s great that Ramaphosa is thinking of rewarding those who have done what is in the best interests not just of science but of the entire country, including ironically the rhino whisperers. But it’s also important that there’s a stick with the carrot too. It’s something though that the tin foil hat brigade will rail against, aided and abetted by a rag tag bunch of fellow travellers, opportunists and the downright workshy.

This is a chicken or beef scenario: either you choose to get vaccinated and join the rest of us or you can log in from home until that doesn’t work anymore. But why are we even having this debate? Once upon a time more of us smoked than those who didn’t. Then cigarette advertising was banned and smoking was demonised. We couldn’t smoke at our desks, in cinemas or on aircraft – ultimately anywhere in public. Many of us actually stopped, but the diehards continued – even during the great Lockdown prohibition. That’s their right.

As for Big Business, the insurance industry has always punished smokers, even when tame doctors were being used to tell us how cool Chesterfields were. So, what’s different this time? Vaccines work. If you choose not to get vaccinated and get infected; hospitalised; intubated; and, die – that should be on you, not the rest of us.

Sadly, the worst part of the millennial era is that we all get medals for participating and we all get to be heard – even when it’s just parroting dangerous fake science. This has to stop. Shout if from the rooftops: If you are not in the infinitesimal minority that has an actual medical reason not to, get the jab or jail yourself at home.

And no, you can’t speak to the manager.

Originally published on 11 September 2021 in the Saturday Star