Saturday, May 15, 2021
HomeCOVID-19Why vaccination should not be so rushed

Why vaccination should not be so rushed

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I WOULDN’T say I was anti-vax but I do think that vaccination should be carried out only where absolutely clinically necessary. All forms of medication involve some risk, no matter how small. The decision to medicate our immune systems should be one that is taken with the utmost care and diligence. 

The extraordinary pressure to be vaccinated has come from, among other reasons, a desire to exit lockdown speedily. The two issues of lockdown and vaccination have become inextricably and painfully linked by the abandonment of the following principles that should form the backbone of healthcare: first do no harm; don’t panic; evaluate risk; ensure action is founded on solid evidence-based medicine and do not exaggerate or over-promise. 

The problem with the Government’s strategy is that they are rolling out a vaccination programme in a blanket approach that does not allow members of the public to make a properly informed decision based on evaluating their own risk from catching Covid. A clinician should advise a patient to undergo treatment only when he or she has been informed of all the pros and cons, so that clinician has the patient’s informed consent. This consent can be obtained only when the relative risks have been presented in a non-biased way without frightening the patient. 

It would be reasonable to question the speed at which the vaccines were brought out (can you really compress time?), the way they were administered (strictly as manufacturers recommended or not?) and, in this case particularly, the trial numbers and age range etc. If we throw caution to the wind and accept that we have to get everyone vaccinated willy-nilly to put a speedy end to lockdown, we have failed as clinicians to act professionally. We are taking a gamble (again, no matter how small) and as a result we risk failing to provide the best care for the public. If that ‘no matter how small gamble’ fails in any way, we also risk losing the most precious value that patients place in us – trust.

Another risk is that we are going down the path of multiple vaccinations for multiple diseases or variants of diseases for which the long-term implications cannot be known. The human immune system has evolved over millions of years, and it is phenomenal. It is usually only when a person is very old or ill that it might not work effectively. What could the effect of mass multiple vaccinations be on future generations’ immune systems? Might immune systems be less stimulated to develop without the naturally evolved drive that has made us what we are today? We should ask these questions.

So let’s use vaccinations only very cautiously and properly based on the principles I referred to earlier. Until we have done that, there are other forms of rigorously tested treatments and preventive measures that can strengthen our immune systems. We may have to accept, sadly, that some elderly and ill people will die somewhat prematurely.

In summary, it is crucial to look at the bigger picture. This means considering what we might not know as well as what we do already understand – or think we understand. It is possible to assume that because Sage or similar groups say ‘this and that will work’ we should go along with whatever they say (or order!) unquestioningly. I’m sure Sage are a bunch of well-meaning people (at least I hope they are) and they are certainly very clever – but are they wise? Socrates said: ‘A wise man understands that he knows nothing.’  We should think about that before we rush into things.

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Dr Mark Shaw
Dr Mark Shaw is a retired dentist. He lives in South Wales and is interested in what constitutes fairness in society and how specialisation might be drawing people away from the bigger picture in life. His interests are nature and sport (particularly surfing).

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