Hereford Times Article - Vaccination Hesitency

Published on: 20th May 2021

Image of Bishop Richard Jackson standing besides an apple tree

"Vaccines seem to be the way to normality"


Judging by the joyous celebrations from over the wall in the Koffee Pot at weekends, people are champing at the bit to throw off the last of our restrictions. Assuming we do get let loose on June 21st, I think it will be quite a party!


Vaccines seem to be the way to normality. It’s very easy to get annoyed with people who refuse them.  If some of the stories that are doing the rounds on social media are believed by enough people, refusing a jab would jeopardise the return to normal.  But some of the judgementalism is misplaced.  Listening to the coverage of the growth of the Indian variant, I confess my initial reaction to hearing how many eligible people in Bolton hadn’t been vaccinated was irritation.  How irresponsible I thought.  But then I looked into it a little more and realised all wasn’t as it first seemed.  When the vaccine started rolling out in Bolton, only 6 people were able to offer vaccinations to the local population – compare this with the many lovely volunteers at Edgar House in Hereford.  The levels of poverty in Bolton are so severe that many people have insufficient credit on a mobile phone to receive the NHS text message, let alone credit to make a phone call to the GP practice to arrange an appointment.  The more recent photos of the queues for the vaccine buses show that the people of Bolton are as happy to be vaccinated as anyone else.  What is clear, is they didn’t initially have the same access or ability to access the opportunity.


COVID has exposed some real fault lines in our society.  You are much more likely to catch and die from COVID if you are poor and live in an overcrowded inner-city estate.  This could be linked to living conditions over which you have very little control.  It is not the same as vaccine hesitancy.  It is harder to self-isolate if you are on a zero-hours contract and no work means no pay. It is harder to avoid the dangers of infection if you simply can’t work from home. It may be a stark choice between feeding the children or the bus fare to get to the vaccination centre.   


Jesus once said, “Judge not, that you be not judged.”  I do think some of the reasons people cite for not getting the jab are ridiculous.  But I do not want to tar everyone with the same brush. I need to pause for a moment and ask myself, “If I was living with the same limitations, would I behave in the same way?” The answer is probably yes, in which case I don’t have any moral high ground to stand on.




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