Mandatory Vaccines

Macron Says, “No Vaxx, No Citizenship” as France Unveils New, Stricter Vaccine Passports

We’re publishing today a piece by Josie Appleton on the introduction in France today of the beefed-up vaccine passports and how they signify the almost mystical role the vaccines have taken on during the pandemic. Josie – who is author of Toxic Sociality – Reflections on a Pandemic and Officious – Rise of the Busybody State – sees in this an undermining of medical ethics that only harms vaccination itself.

Here’s a taster:

The vaccine passport is a citizenship test for a morally and politically vacuous age. It is entirely passive – it is the simple act of consenting to a medical procedure, after which you are crowned with a civic virtue. This is a citizenship test that occurs on the level of what the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben calls “bare life”; that is, it is a question of merely biological existence, rather than a question of how a life is lived. Receiving a vaccine pass is mute; there are no words, there is no oath of allegiance to party, country or leader. You offer your body and receive a QR code in return: this is the nature of the new social contract between citizen and state. “Vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate” is the mantra for reconstituting authority and society in an age where this authority cannot be grounded on a substantial social basis.

The vaccine is being treated as a mystical state or collective substance that incorporates people into the collective body. Vaccination now is like a sacrament, a transubstantiation ritual; through the vaccine we are receiving the body of the state into our body and therefore joining the community.

One casualty in this is vaccination itself. Considered scientifically, a vaccine – as with any drug – is not a protective talisman or means for membership of a community. It is a medical product with particular qualities and uses, and particular side effects and risks. It may be useful for some groups but not others, and in some contexts but not in others. The rational use of a drug is as important as the drug itself, to ensure that it is directed towards the appropriate ends.

The ideological weaponisation of vaccines distorts these cost-benefit judgements. The vaccine is forced upon people who have little or no need of it, such as children and those with natural immunity, while ignoring those who have need of it. (The older and more vulnerable someone is, the less they are affected by vaccine passports.)

This episode is violating the very basis of health and medical ethics. Through vaccination passports and mandates, it has become acceptable to force someone to take a medical treatment, even a treatment that is not really in their medical interest. When Jean Castex boasted that the vaccine passport led to a rise in people getting their first vaccination, the interviewer pointed out “but they were forced”. Castex shrugged. In normal times, medical force is unacceptable; medical force means the Nazis. When France began vaccinating a year ago, it insisted upon consent forms and pre-vaccine interviews to ensure that people were really consenting. Now, the use of force has become entirely acceptable, it has become ethical in fact. It is the duty of the state to get people to do their duty.

Worth reading in full.

NHS Vaccine Mandate “To Be Delayed”

The NHS vaccine mandate is likely to be “kicked down the road”, a Whitehall source has told the Telegraph, amid demands by Conservative MPs for it to be scrapped entirely. The Telegraph has the story.

Compulsory Covid vaccines for NHS workers would be delayed for six months, under eleventh-hour plans being considered by Boris Johnson to help quell a seismic revolt among Tory MPs.

On Saturday night, just two weeks before the NHS is due to begin sacking staff who have not had a jab, a Whitehall source said that the requirement is likely to be “kicked down the road”, amid demands by Conservative backbenchers for it to be dropped entirely. …

All frontline NHS staff are required to have had two jabs by April 1st, but more than 80,000 – 6% of the workforce – remain unvaccinated.

The plan being considered at senior levels of Government is to overhaul the requirement so that staff would, in theory, be required to have their booster too. The deadline would also be delayed by six months, ostensibly to give workers time to get their third jab. Such a delay is likely to reassure some MPs opposed to the move that it will ultimately not transpire.

It was starting to feel inevitable, but it’s good to see signals appearing. Now we just need to see it permanently scrapped, and the care home mandate removed as well.

Worth reading in full.

Royal College of GPs Calls For Cancellation of NHS Vaccine Mandate as Thousands March in Protest

The NHS vaccine mandate should be cancelled to prevent staff shortages, the Royal College of GPs has said, as thousands took to the streets across England to protest against the policy. The BBC has more.

NHS staff must have a first jab by February 3rd and be fully vaccinated by April 1st to continue in frontline roles.

The Department of Health said there were no plans to delay and it was “the right thing to do to protect patients”.

NHS workers who oppose the Government’s mandatory vaccination policy have staged a protest in central London.

Demonstrations were also held in other cities across England including Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds. …

Martin Marshall, Chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said compulsory vaccination for health professionals in England was “not the right way forward”.

He said the vast majority of staff were vaccinated but some 70,000 to 80,000 were not and they accounted for 10% of staff at some hospital or GP surgeries.

Some 94.3% of NHS trust health care workers in England have had a first dose of vaccine and 91.5% have had a second dose, figures to December 31st show.

If unvaccinated staff were taken out of frontline roles by April 1st there would be “massive consequences” for the NHS, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

He said a delay would allow time for booster jabs and a “sensible conversation” about whether vaccines should be mandatory at all.

Danny Mortimer, deputy chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said some frontline staff would have to leave their roles if they choose not to be vaccinated.

He said: “This will reduce frontline NHS staff numbers even further and lead to more gaps in capacity at a time of intense pressure and patient demand.”

In London, demonstrators marched from Regents Park to the BBC headquarters in Portland Place in a peaceful protest against mandating vaccines for health workers.

But Dr. Nikki Kanani, medical director of primary care for NHS England, said health care professionals had “a duty” to make sure they were protected.

She said: “If you’re marching today, just take a moment, think about the people that you’ve been looking after who have experienced Covid, think about your colleagues who you’ve been working with, and think about the best way to make sure that we’re all protected, and that we’re all as safe as possible, because we are very much in this together and it’s down to us to look after each other too.”

Meanwhile, Kate, a nurse in Hampshire, told the Today programme she was prepared to lose her job rather than have a coronavirus vaccine against her will.

“I don’t feel like the vaccination needs to be mandated because we are medical professionals and we have enough information to make that decision for ourselves,” she said.

“When I had Covid I was ill but not particularly unwell and when it comes to me being forced to do something or lose my job, I just can’t understand how they think that’s a sensible position. I’m good at my job, I care about people, and I certainly have never and would never put people at risk.”

Pressure growing on the Government to U-turn on this, which can’t come too soon. With the evidence that Omicron both evades the vaccines and is mild, what justification there might have been has now clearly evaporated. Perhaps the Government is leaving the U-turn to the last moment in order to maximise the pressure on unvaccinated staff to accept the jab. Which is of course cruel, but then so is the policy so we can hardly expect them to care about that.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: talkRADIO has tweeted about the protests taking place today in London and across the country: “Thousands of people have gathered in central London to protest against the mandatory vaccine mandate that could see more than 70,000 NHS workers lose their jobs.

Government Considering Pausing NHS Vaccine Mandate Over Fears 70,000 Workers Would be Sacked

The Government is considering pausing its plans for compulsory vaccination for health service staff over fears of the mass sacking of more than 70,000 NHS workers. The i has the story.

A temporary suspension of the controversial policy is being “actively” looked at within the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) amid dire warnings from hospital trusts and GPs of the severe impact of staff shortages on services, sources said.

All staff in patient-facing roles are currently required to have two jabs from April 1st or face dismissal.

The need for a gap between doses means that anyone who does not get their first dose by February 3rd will be told they will be losing their job, with little chance of redeployment.

With several Tory MPs vigorously opposed to the compulsory vaccination plan for NHS staff, not least because of the impact a staffing crisis will have on their local hospitals, a pause would also help Boris Johnson in his battle to avoid a confidence vote by his own party.

Pressure on the PM and Health Secretary to halt the mandatory jabs programme has intensified in the past week amid new internal Whitehall documents suggesting two jabs would not be enough to cope with the Omicron variant.

i‘s analysis of NHS England figures shows 80,092 NHS workers have not had a single dose of the Covid vaccine, and a Government impact assessment has warned 73,000 patient-facing workers are unjabbed.

Those who are medically exempt will be able to keep their jobs.

The Royal College of Nursing has warned that it will be an act of “self-sabotage” at a time when the NHS is suffering from staff shortfalls.

One London trust alone warned it could have to fire 1,600 staff, and several trusts across the country are understood to have asked NHS England to urge the DHSC to rethink.

One Government source said its line remained unchanged, adding: “We are cracking on with the policy.”

However, MPs have pounced on a little-noticed hint from Mr Johnson himself, when he told lockdown-sceptic backbenchers that “we will reflect on the way ahead”.

If Boris has any sense then he will not only be considering this but will do it, and will not make it temporary. The mandate on care home staff – a sector similarly short of workers – should also be removed and those sacked in the autumn welcomed back.

Worth reading in full.

Government Announces End of Pandemic Restrictions – Including Mask Mandate From January 26th

As Boris Johnson’s premiership unravels following the backlash from the ‘partygate’ revelations of illicit Downing Street lockdown shindigs, the Prime Minister has announced not only the end of Plan B measures from January 26th – including vaccine passports, work-from-home guidance and face masks – but his intention to end the remaining measures as well. He told the Commons:

Today’s latest ONS data show clearly that infection levels are falling in England and while there are some places where cases are likely to continue rising, including in primary schools, our scientists believe it is likely that the omicron wave has now peaked nationally.

There remain, of course, significant pressures on the NHS across our country, and especially in the North East and North West, but hospital admissions which were doubling every nine days just two weeks ago have now stabilised, with admissions in London even falling. The numbers in intensive care not only remain low but are actually also falling.

So, this morning, the Cabinet concluded that because of the extraordinary booster campaign, together with the way the public have responded to the Plan B measures, we can return to Plan A in England and allow Plan B regulations to expire.

As a result, from the start of Thursday next week mandatory certification will end. Organisations can, of course, choose to use the NHS Covid pass voluntarily but we will end the compulsory use of Covid status certification in England.

Announcing the end of work-from-home guidance with immediate effect, he said: “People should speak to their employers about arrangements for returning to the office.” 

He also said that face masks would no longer be mandated in classrooms from tomorrow, or anywhere else after Plan B measures lapse:

Having looked at the data carefully, the Cabinet concluded that once regulations lapse the Government will no longer mandate the wearing of face masks anywhere.

From tomorrow, we will no longer require face masks in classrooms and the Department for Education will shortly remove national guidance on their use in communal areas.

In the country at large we will continue to suggest the use of face coverings in enclosed or crowded spaces, particularly when you come into contact with people you don’t normally meet – but we will trust the judgement of the British people and no longer criminalise anyone who chooses not to wear one.

He also signalled his intention to end the legal requirement to self-isolate, including bringing forward the current expiry date from March 24th:

Leaked Department of Health Memo Warns Ministers That NHS Vaccine Mandate May Not Survive Judicial Review as Vaccine Effectiveness Falls to Zero

As the deadline for the NHS vaccine mandate approaches and worries about staff shortages and unfair treatment rise, a leaked document from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) issues ministers with a stark warning, saying the new evidence on Omicron – showing vaccine effectiveness dropping to zero – casts doubts over the new law’s “rationality” and “proportionality”. The Guardian has the story.

Two jabs will become compulsory for frontline NHS staff from April 1st after MPs voted on the legislation last month.

But the document, drawn up by Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) officials and seen by the Guardian, said the evidence base on which MPs voted “has changed”, creating a higher chance of objections and judicial review.

The effectiveness of only two vaccine doses against Omicron, and the lower likelihood of hospitalisations from the milder variant, are cited.

More than 70,000 NHS staff – 4.9% – could remain unvaccinated by April 1st, the document says. NHS trusts in England are preparing to start sending dismissal letters from February 3rd to any member of staff who has not had their first dose by then.

Amid significant pressures on the NHS, last week groups including the Royal College of Nursing urged Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, to delay the legislation, known as “vaccination as a condition of deployment” (VCOD2). An earlier VCOD1 rule applied to care workers and came into force on November 11th.

On Tuesday the Royal College of Nursing said the leaked memo should prompt ministers to call a halt to the imposition of compulsory jabs, which it called “reckless”. …

The document prepared by DHSC officials noted that two vaccine doses provide up to 32% effectiveness against Omicron infection, which wanes to in effective zero 20 weeks later.

At the time the policy was developed, two-dose effectiveness against infection with the Delta variant was substantially higher – 65% with Oxford/AstraZeneca and 80% with Pfizer/BioNTech, the DHSC memo said.

Booster jabs have since been shown to be highly effective but are not part of the law for NHS workers.

The article quotes from the memo itself:

Dismissals to Begin in Days as NHS Vaccine Mandate Deadline Looms

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The NHS will begin sacking staff who have not had a Covid vaccine in just 16 days as the deadline to receive the first jab approaches on February 3rd, new guidance reveals. The Telegraph has more.

All frontline staff are required to have had two jabs by April 1, meaning the first dose must have been administered by Feb 3rd. More than 80,000 – 6% of the workforce – remain unvaccinated despite repeated efforts to boost take-up.

Last week, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) urged ministers to delay the rules, saying they could have a “catastrophic” impact on the delivery of services.

NHS guidance to employers says all frontline staff who have not been vaccinated should start being called into formal meetings from Feb 4th and warned that they face dismissal. Dismissal notices will start being issued from that day, with the notice period ending on March 31st.

Roles covered by the rules include porters, receptionists and ward clerks as well as doctors and nurses.

NHS managers have been told they can redeploy frontline staff who will not be vaccinated into backroom roles that do not involve direct patient contact. But the guidance says they do not have to be concerned with finding “suitable alternative employment”, nor will redundancy payments be made to those who are dismissed.

Separate local guidance for GPs suggests creating different entrances and exits for unvaccinated staff to avoid them crossing paths with patients. The advice, from the Cambridgeshire local medical committee, says this would be a “pragmatic” approach.

The NHS guidance says organisations should warn regulators if they identify areas likely to be hit by staffing shortages that could threaten patient safety.

Workers will be asked to show Covid passes to prove they have had their jabs, or for evidence to show that they are exempt.

The Government’s own impact assessment says 73,000 NHS staff in England could be lost because of the rules. There are currently vacancies for almost 100,000 NHS jobs, including 40,000 nursing posts.

Last week Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, told the Commons the Government remained committed to plans to introduce compulsory jabs for all NHS frontline staff from April.

He said those who failed to get vaccinated were “standing on the shoulders” of others who had taken steps to help protect the population, adding that, since consultation began, take-up of jabs by NHS workers had risen from 92% to 94%.

There it is in black-and-white: they’re not being sacked because they’re deemed unsafe, but because others have been vaccinated and they’re perceived as free riders. It’s not about patient safety (how much difference will the last 6% really make to transmission, even if you assume the vaccines are highly effective against Omicron, which they’re not) but about vindictive, self-defeating politics that will only worsen the NHS staffing crisis and mistreat thousands of hard-working people who were heroes until last week. The Government needs to U-turn on this now before it makes yet another unforced error and further undermines its authority and support.

Worth reading in full.

Antony Worrall Thompson Puts Sign on Pub Saying “Unvaccinated Welcome”

Celebrity chef Antony Worrall Thompson has put a sign on his pub the Greyhound in Oxfordshire that makes clear the unvaccinated are welcome. It says: “We do not discriminate. Race, gender, age, disability, vaccinated or unvaccinated. Everyone equal here. Everyone welcome.” The BBC has more.

The TV chef, who opened his first restaurant in London in 1981, used to appear on the BBC’s Ready Steady Cook, and came fifth on I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! in 2003.

He told the BBC: “I’m doing it [having the sign up] because I don’t want to discriminate against anyone.

“At the end of the day we’ve done our time, we’ve done two years of this, lockdowns and various things and precautions, and I think it’s time to move on.”

Asked if it was irresponsible, he answered: “I don’t think it’s irresponsible at all. You know you have the choice. Freedom of choice to get vaccinated, freedom of choice to come to the Greyhound.”

He added: “I agree with people getting vaccinated. I’m not an anti-vaxxer… to me if you don’t want to get vaccinated, if you don’t want to put chemicals into your body, it has to be your choice.”

Worth reading in full.

Fact-Checking the BBC’s ‘Fact Check’ of The Doctor Who Challenged the Health Secretary on Vaccine Mandate

The BBC has published another of its questionable ‘reality checks‘, this one by the aptly-titled “disinformation reporter” Rachel Schraer. Her target is doctor Steve James, who directly challenged Health Secretary Sajid Javid on the science behind the impending vaccination mandate when Mr. Javid visited the hospital where he works last week. Schraer, whose medical and scientific credentials are unclear, has taken it upon herself to assess Dr. James’s claims in a piece entitled “Fact-checking the doctor who challenged the Health Secretary“, saying the claims are “not exactly what the evidence shows”. However, the evidence she picks for this ‘fact check’ is very selective, and she overlooks several studies that do indeed back up what the brave doctor was saying.

Dr. James told Mr. Javid: “The vaccines are reducing transmission only for about eight weeks with Delta. For Omicron, it’s probably less.”

‘Disinformation reporter’ Schraer responds:

While vaccines remain very good at protecting against becoming severely ill with Covid, the protection they give against catching it and passing it on does wane more quickly.

Dr. James was referring to a study that found a vaccinated person with Covid was just 2% less likely than an unvaccinated person to pass it on, 12 weeks after a second Oxford-AstraZeneca jab – he acknowledges his reference to “eight weeks” was an error.

But the same study found the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which NHS staff are likely to have had, endured better. Vaccinated people had a 25% lower risk of infecting others than unvaccinated people after 12 weeks.

Well, 25% is not very much, and this is not the only study which looks at this, with others finding even smaller effect. A study in the Lancet found no difference in household secondary attack rate depending on whether the index case was vaccinated, and correspondingly no difference in viral load. A study by the U.S. CDC also found no difference in infectiousness and concluded: “Clinicians and public health practitioners should consider vaccinated persons who become infected with SARS-CoV-2 to be no less infectious than unvaccinated persons.” UKHSA and others have also found viral load no lower in the vaccinated. These studies are all pre-Omicron, which is likely to be even more able to evade vaccines.

Vaccinated Doctors Among 1.2 MILLION to Sign Petition to French National Assembly Protesting Vaccine Passports as Major Attack on Rule of Law

A petition signed by more than 1.2 million people, including doctors, nurses and vaccinated citizens, protesting against vaccine passports has been delivered to the National Assembly in France. A Daily Sceptic reader sent us this description:

Mr. Rodolphe Bacquet has been running a campaign protesting against the French vaccine pass. He has created a website campaign with information videos etc. and has recently appeared in a debate on a French TV news channel. This last week, he has handed a petition with just over an incredible 1.2 million signatures to the National Assembly and the Senate of the French Government. Triple-jabbed members of the French public and doctors and nurses are amongst the signatories.

Click here to watch a video of the petition being delivered and find a translated transcript below.

Martine Wonner, Deputy from Bas-Rhin (region) speaking at the Assembly on January 3rd 2022 – “This vaccine passport, tool of stigmatisation and apartheid. The French are against it and signified this in a petition that has reached more than 1.2 million signatures.”

Rodolphe Bacquet – “I am on my way to the Senate to deliver by hand to a ‘Senatrice’, the petition against the vaccine pass. Hello Madame, thank you for your time.”

Senatrice – “You are welcome, you are courageous, I think that all the French and all opinions must all be represented and it is our role to listen to everyone.”

RB – “These are the names of 1.2 million French people, these are all the signatures from last Monday, since then there has been more signatures.”

Senatrice – “Yes you are right, there are a lot of citizens like yourself and it is difficult to be heard.”

RB then enters the building and hands over a petition.

RB – “We have passed 1.2 million signatures in only 10 days, if you open the document to the first page, there’s a text addressed to our ‘elected ‘ asking them solemnly to take into account the interest of their citizens. These people write to me that they are double, triple jabbed so that they are not anti-vaxx.

Woman responds – “It goes beyond the division of vaxx and non-vaxx.”

RB – “Exactly, some media tried to reduce this petition to an anti-vaxx one but this is not it. We attack the vaccine pass.”

RB addresses a crowd – “Hello thank you, [people applaud and thank him] I would like to remind our Deputies that they are not only at the ‘service’ of a political party or general politics. This is not about politics anymore today, it is about our imminent future. We are not illegal by refusing to get vaccinated, we are within our legal rights to make a medical choice and it is this free ‘consent ‘ that we absolutely must preserve and defend in front of the National Assembly.”

RB addresses a man (Deputy Nicolas DuPont-Aignan) – “Can I give you a copy and let you give it to whom it may concern.”

Deputy Dupont – “Would you allow me to present it when I talk… [meaning unclear].”

RB – “Yes of course, and I hope that the Parliament which is the Senate and the National Assembly will open their eyes to the anti-constitutionality of this new law and the social danger that this new law represents and will stop it, and failing that then it will be up to the ‘Conseil Constitutional ‘ to take its responsibility.”

RB then delivers another copy for the Chief of the Parliamentarians.