To many the arrival of the new COVID-19 vaccine signals the light at the end of a dark tunnel. For others, the vaccine, or rather the regulations concerning it are a threat to civil liberties. Will Israel rule the vaccine mandatory? And how will that affect society if it does?
Cause for concern?
The pandemic started not too long ago, and we already have an authorized vaccine in our hands. According to Wellcome Trust, a research-charity based in London, a vaccine normally takes about 10 years to develop, with the 1st research stage taking between 2-5 years, pre-clinical development of 2 years, a 3-phase clinical development that takes about 5 years, regulatory review of 1-2 years, and finally manufacturing and delivery.
It’s a high-stakes and incredibly expensive process that also includes political and media pressure, critique from the medical/scientific community, and stifling economic concerns.
Given all this, it should come as a surprise that we somehow already have thousands of COVID-19 vaccine doses in our hands. People are understandably cautious, if not suspicious.
Pfizer boasts a success rate of 90% for its product, but it holds to a one-of-a-kind status as the first-ever messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine on the market. While it has to prove to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) that no short-term side effects can emerge from its use, it is yet unknown if any long-term health issues may occur in patients.
In case something does happen, the drugmakers won’t be able to be held accountable, as the law protects vaccine manufacturers from design-defect charges as long as they can prove that the vaccine was properly manufactured and carried adequate warnings labels. In a similar manner to the US, Israel has a Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, the reason being that in the past drugmakers paid out millions in hundreds of vaccine-related injury lawsuits that eventually deterred them from making more vaccines. The government decided it had to intervene in an attempt to stimulate vaccine R&D, thus ridding the drugmakers of major levels of accountability.
What to do?
In a recent poll conducted by Channel 13, 23% of Israelis will agree to be inoculated, 26% would like to wait several months, 20% will wait for others to get jabbed first, and 22% said they would flat out refuse the drug.
The Ministry of Health doesn’t view these numbers favorably. In a meeting held with the epidemic treatment team, they examined the possibility of enacting a law that would require the public to be vaccinated against COVID-19, while preparing a program of procedural and legal incentives for the public who choose to be inoculated.
Among the possible restrictions that could be imposed on those who refuse the vaccine:
- Will be denied a certificate enabling freedom of movement, especially flying abroad;
- Will be required to quarantine upon return from abroad;
- May not enter cinemas or other cultural establishments;
- Will be denied entry to hotels;
- Will not be permitted use of gyms or entry to sporting events.
Additional restrictions aimed at demoralizing refusers are being considered.
Many who oppose taking the vaccine, or at least taking it in its early stages of active public, use are concerned for their rights and freedoms, in particular their right to say “No,” are under attack. This perceived assault on personal freedoms is not by direct decree, but rather by bureaucratic maneuvers that are designed to make the lives of refusers, whether on conscientious or religious grounds, very hard.
A question of Liberty
“Needless to say, any sane person who has a minimal spirit of human freedom and sovereignty over his body, understands very well that this cannot be done. Man is sovereign over his body (except suicide) and since the state has been allowed to invade the bodies of its citizens, the slippery slope will quickly lead to very dangerous places. Even the supporters of the new vaccine understand this and know that an attempt to force vaccines into law will achieve the opposite result and play into the hands of the refusers. That’s why vaccine supporters are opting for bureaucratic coercion. For parents who have not vaccinated their children, there will be no kindergarten to send them to in the morning – and they will not be able to work and earn a living, and on and on. Thus, through bureaucracy, which is more dictatorial than any law, the proponents of the vaccine hope to impose it on the entire population.”
In Israel we say, “you don’t play with health” (בבריאות לא משחקים), meaning that when it comes to issues that concern our wellbeing, we are to treat it with all seriousness. I wholeheartedly agree. Our health is not something to be trifled with, yet the trends that follow us from the inception of the pandemic are increasingly alarming:
- banning worship and prayer at our synagogues and churches;
- tracking our phones;
- lockdowns specifically on biblical Feasts, etc.
All of this allegedly for the sake of the safety of the citizens, while at the same time the politicians who impose it on us fail to follow their own recommendations and instructions. We can fight a common-sense fight against COVID-19, but it cannot come at the expense of our God-given freedoms.
“Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.” – Benjamin Franklin