The Covid vaccination program has stalled over recent months, the result of which could be to send the country backward into some sort of lockdown.
The problem appears to be twofold.
There are a group of five million who don’t seem to want the jab, despite the evidence that it can stop them getting Covid and perhaps more importantly, ending up in hospital. The vast majority of those ending up in the hospitals have not been vaccinated.
The other group are those due to have the booster jab. Many of this group (over 50s) were very keen to get the first two jabs, so it is difficult to understand the reluctance of some to take a third.
What is for sure is that booster jabs need to be accelerated, alongside the flu immunisation program. Much immunity from flu has been lost over the past year, which could see hospital wards filling up with those who have that disease.
So what is the problem with the five million, who refuse to be vaccinated?
Not all are conspiracy theorists or anti-vaxxers. There is much disinformation flying around on social media. The tendency of many in that genre to settle themselves in silos of the like-minded helps disinformation take root.
But there must be bigger problems for so many to be so distrustful of what they are being told by those in authority and particularly government.
There seems to be a growing sense of disempowerment amongst some people in society. A sense of being forced to do things they don’t want to do. A sense they lack a meaningful voice. An alienation.
The handling of the Covid crisis by government has made an already bad situation worse. Thousands dead, a debacle over Personal Protective Equipment and test and trace. All done amid a background feeling of a few people getting very rich on the back of a mass tragedy.
The vaccination program needs to get back on track. This will mean connecting with and seriously addressing the concerns of the five million, not just lecturing them like naughty school children. But beyond Covid and the public health crisis, the bond of trust between governed and governors needs to be rebuilt. Honesty and openness will be key to that process. Failure to do so will see the chasm of distrust widen, with even more people effectively cutting off from the mainstream of society. This will in turn lead to a more divided, disordered and ungovernable land.
Paul Donovan is a Redbridge Labour councillor for Wanstead village and blogger. See paulfdonovan.blogspot.com