Why Voting Is Just Like Vaccines

Photo by  Elliott Stallion  on  Unsplash

Photo by Elliott Stallion on Unsplash

There are very few things that I judge people on. Mostly, I rigorously adopt a live and let live attitude - and it’s because of this that I find this article hard to write; harder still to publish. I’m a Remainer and while I can’t understand why anyone would vote to leave the EU, I still very much respect their right to do so, for example. I’m not going to fall out with someone who voted Leave - we may have to agree to never discuss it - but essentially, it’s their right to vote how they choose. That’s democracy after all.

There are just two things in life that I can’t help but be judgemental about: voting and vaccines. These are topics that if someone tells me they don’t do, I think less of them. I’m not proud of that. No matter what the subject, people have a right to make their own choices; it’s just that, when it comes to voting and vaccines, it’s not as simple as ‘personal choice’. Whether you choose to vote and vaccinate or not, it doesn’t just affect you; it affects the lives and rights of others around you. For that reason, and I know I’m being tenuous, I justify my judgement.

When it comes to vaccines, I hear theories all the time about why they are not just unnecessary but damaging. Whether or not you choose to believe it, the theory that the MMR is linked to autism has been debunked. It’s simply not true. Your addiction to conspiracy theories on the other hand, may be alive and well, but the MMR inducing autism in your kids? It’s not true. Secondly, there’s the theory that they don’t work or that they’re no longer necessary. They do work. There used to be deadly diseases that wiped out huge swathes of populations - now there aren’t. As for being no longer necessary? Well, we only have to look at the recent measles outbreak across the US and the UK that proves that theory to be untrue. There are, quite literally, volumes and volumes of research on vaccines that prove the above to be true and no matter what your latest conspiracy theory ‘Big Pharma is the root of all evil’ podcast told you, vaccines are good and necessary.

Speaking of Big Pharma, the final theory regarding vaccines is that, because they are unnecessary, they are simply still around to make the Big Pharma fat cats money. Here’s what I say to that: Great! As far as I’m concerned, if you’re the company making it possible to vaccinate children so that they never have to endure the horrors of certain diseases, then sure, I’m ok with you getting rich over that. I’m morally more comfortable with that that the fat cats at the banks or the tech-geniuses behind Facebook and Instagram, because if someone is going to get rich (and trust, me someone is always going to get rich) then providing the means with which to save lives is a decent reason as far as I’m concerned.

And let’s not forget, those companies making gazillions from vaccines are also making gazillions from drugs such as chemotherapy and cancer treatments. No one complains about that and those are drugs that do every human that has the misfortune of having to encounter them, very serious damage. Much more damage than any vaccination has ever done. Of course, chemo is the necessary evil of the malicious beast that is cancer, but because vaccines are preventative rather than curative, and because we don’t see the effects of measles, smallpox, mumps, rubella there seems to be little emotional motivation to accept them as real, necessary drugs and treatments.

So now to voting. Why do people who don’t vote get me so viscerally enraged that I can’t find an empathetic or compassionate bone in my body? Because voting is not a god-given right. It’s a right that our ancestors fought for and died for. It’s a right that so many people in the world are still fighting for and dying for. It’s a gender issues, it’s a race issue, it’s a class issue. Without voting, democracy doesn’t exist. It’s that simple. Without the ability to vote, we cannot live in a democracy and so many people wax lyrical about how things should be democratic and fair but when it comes to walking the walk to the polling station, they simply don’t do it. Some claim powerlessness. It doesn’t matter if I vote, they say. It’s an illusion of power. And here’s where I get to my point and make the link between voting and vaccinations.

Voting like vaccinations relies on the large majority of those involved taking part. Herd immunity happens when 90-95% of the population are vaccinated when it comes to a highly contagious disease such as measles (for less contagious diseases such as Polio, an 80-85% vaccination rate is required). When you dip below that, it creates a loophole, an open gate for those diseases to get a hold and start to run riot. We are safer when we operate together; we are safer when we prioritise the protection of the human race over the ‘protection’ of our own.

And just like vaccinations, my vote is stronger because you voted too, even if you didn’t vote the same way. When a minority of the population vote, the vote becomes meaningless. It’s no longer representative. Think about the Brexit referendum back in 2016. Those who voted to remain, were we mad because we lost the vote or were we made because we knew that our complacency had led to a low turnout? That the vote wasn’t representative of the majority even though it claimed to be? It was representative of the majority who voted and that’s not the same thing.

If the Brexiteers had won the referendum, but we knew that everyone eligible to vote, had voted, would we have been so fucking pissed off? I certainly wouldn’t have been. I’d have been sad, disappointed. I would have felt despair but I wouldn’t have been as angry as I am now. So, if you haven’t already, get off your arse and go and vote. If you want to vote for Farage and the Brexit Party then knock yourself out. That’s your right, but don’t laugh in the face of a privilege that you have because you were simply lucky enough to be born in the right country.

Oh, and vaccinate your kids.