Opinion |

Israelis Don’t Want to Get Vaccinated? They Should Constantly Get Tested

Ravit Hecht
Ravit Hecht
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Protesters in Tel Aviv; the sign says "there is no pandemic, it's a fraud."
Protesters in Tel Aviv; the sign says "there is no pandemic, it's a fraud."Credit: Ofer Vaknin
Ravit Hecht
Ravit Hecht

The state is taking its struggle against vaccine resisters up a notch. This battle is expected to heat up with the Health Ministry’s imminent recommendation that children 5 to 11 be vaccinated as well.

The sanctions against the anti-vaxxers are getting harsher. The Education Ministry has said that teachers without a Green Pass who refuse to present negative test results won’t be allowed to teach and won’t get paid. Starting in October, this group will include teachers who haven’t received the third dose and who got the second dose more than six months ago.

This is a moment of genuine conflict in the history of Israeli democracy (I’m sure this will give the occupation objectors a laugh). This is clear because it’s taking place in the anomaly of a global pandemic.

Clearly, people must not be vaccinated against their will or be forced to have their children inoculated. When the children come to school they must be treated as if they were vaccinated, but the decision to give them priority in receiving medication to halt some other serious disease is problematic, as I’ll discuss below.

The decision to harm the livelihood of unvaccinated people isn’t easy and doesn’t lack for problems, but such a decision is reasonable and should be expanded to older children who can already be inoculated.

This wouldn’t only be to protect us from a severe spread of COVID, many more deaths and a deterioration into another disastrous lockdown. It would preserve that same democracy whose loss the vaccine resisters are lamenting. More accurately, it would preserve the fragile contract between the state and the citizens and among the citizens themselves that derives its validity from the visible reality and the logic of survival.

So far only two measures have proved effective in stopping the disease – lockdowns and vaccinations. The first measure is destructive and damages every family physically, emotionally, financially or all of them together. I respect the skepticism of those who object to the second measure, and I realize that even medical experts can’t yet make conclusive statements about the vaccine and its safety because not enough time has elapsed since this curse and the vaccine against it have come into the world.

Still, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t object to vaccinations and refuse to be tested. This is selfish because it endangers an entire community – not only regarding the disease but because it increases the risk of another lockdown. To the same extent, it’s unreasonable to give a higher point score to the unvaccinated when prioritizing who will receive a certain medication for a disease when the vaccine has proved effective in serious cases of COVID.

While suffering from an active case of cancer or receiving a kidney transplant entitles you to one point for medication, not getting vaccinated entitles you to no less than five because of the immediate danger of developing a serious case of COVID.

I’m not referring to autoimmune patients or others whom doctors have advised not to get vaccinated, or those whose condition has worsened due to the previous doses and are afraid, probably justly, of receiving another shot. I’m talking about those who have decided, in sound mind and for ideological reasons, not to be vaccinated; that is, not to rely on one medical answer and then ask for priority in receiving another.

Protecting this sort of behavior as part of our individual liberties isn’t a struggle for democracy, it undermines it. The moment democracy isn’t based on reality and leans on shreds of absurdity, it’s no longer safe.

Don’t want to get vaccinated? Afraid of harming the temple of your body? Fine. You and your children should always get tested before you appear in public. What’s unreasonable about that?

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