There is a Chinese proverb that says wisdom begins by calling things by their true names.
Hospitality Ulster’s Chief Executive Colin Neill called a vaccine passport system for pubs and restaurants by its true name when he referred to it as “blackmail” (‘Limiting hospitality in NI to increase vaccine uptake is blackmail says hospitality chief,’ August 4, see link below).
No person should ever be coerced into accepting a medication that he / she may not otherwise have taken.
The principle of free and fully informed consent is the bedrock of medical ethics.
If we diverge from this concept, we are heading down a very dark road indeed.
The Parliamentary Assembly of The Council Of Europe adopted Resolution 2361 (2021) on January 27th 2021. Section 7.3.1 of this resolution says that Member States should “ensure that citizens are informed that the vaccination is not mandatory and that no one is politically, socially, or otherwise pressured to get themselves vaccinated, if they do not wish to do so themselves”.
Section 7.3.2 of Council Of Europe Resolution 2361 goes on to say that Member States should “ensure that no one is discriminated against for not having been vaccinated, due to possible health risks or not wanting to be vaccinated”.
Article 6 of The Unesco Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights states that: “Any preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic medical intervention is only to be carried out with the prior, free and informed consent of the person concerned, based on adequate information.
“The consent should, where appropriate, be express and may be withdrawn by the person concerned at any time and for any reason without disadvantage or prejudice”.
We have seen the huge protests all over the world in recent weeks against the introduction of vaccine passports.
If such a system was to be introduced here, it would create a two tier society.
Surely Northern Ireland has seen enough division over the years?
Patrick McGinnity MVB MRCVS, Armagh
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