OUR European neighbours are calling this wave of coronavirus an epidemic of the unvaccinated, and it begs a big question.
What are we going to do about those who are so willing to put the rest of us at risk?
Those who are, in fact, willing to put our most vulnerable at risk.
To put at risk those who are immunocompromised, those who are ill, those who are sick.
Those who do not accept that the very nature of society is a shared compromise.
What can Ireland do about them. What can we do about the unvaccinated? Well, we cannot enforce vaccination. It cannot be made, as some have suggested, compulsory.
That’s because of the sheer impracticality of attempting to do so.
Civil liberty, despite what some argue, shouldn’t come into it.
Society means there are lots of things you can’t do even if you want to.
You can’t drink and drive, you can’t refuse to wear a seatbelt whilst travelling in a vehicle, you can’t walk down the street naked, you can’t send hateful, abusive messages to others.
There are lots of things you can’t do. That’s how society works.
That’s how community exists. The fact you might want to is neither here nor there.
You can’t go into a crèche and smoke cigarettes even if you’re gasping.
It is not your civil liberty to do so.
Unlike those things, though, enforcing vaccinations just won’t work.
It just couldn’t practically be done.
Which still leaves us with the question of what do about those who exhibit such a lack of care about the rest of us.
Well, there are two things we can do.
Two things we can do as the numbers of sick people rise and the winter looms. Firstly, we can confront the anti-vaccine crowd wherever we encounter them. We can ask them how they feel about the sick and vulnerable.
We can ask them why the vast, overwhelming, majority of the world’s medics and scientists are wrong and they are right and point out that the last time a tiny majority opposed the prevailing scientific thought it was to deny climate change.
We can ask them why we should ignore the expert advice of the Chief Medical Officer and instead listen to someone they’ve come across whilst doing ‘research’ on the internet.
We can point out that the last time someone suggested we’d had enough of experts it was Michael Gove and it ended up in the empty shelves and petrol shortages of Brexit.
We can ask them if they truly believe their individual concerns trump any kind of social commitments and are more important than the needs of the vulnerable.
We can ask them that, if Covid is a conspiracy, some kind of secret plan for some kind of secret reason, then how does that actually work?
Are all of the medics and scientific experts in on it?
Or are they duped like the rest of us?
Are all of the politicians, across the globe, in on it too? All of the media?
Did those who have protested outside the homes of Leo Varadkar, politician, Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, and Joe Duffy, RTE broadcaster, do so because those men were dupes or conspirators?
We can ask them too, as those throwing homophobic abuse outside Varadkar’s house demonstrated, what their own links are with the far right?
Ask them to explain how, if this is not far right, the largest anti-vaccination protests have been organised by the Irish Freedom Party or the Irish National Party.
The other thing we can do, in order to protect our vulnerable and our community, is to socially isolate these people as much as possible.
As we are advised to limit our social contacts and follow the guidelines around mask wearing and hand washing in the hope of bringing the infection numbers down, we must ensure that society is closed to those who oppose it.
No pubs, no cafes, no restaurants, no shops, no public transport, no cinemas, no gyms, no work and no pay for those who value their fellow citizens so little. We cannot let the ignorant and the dangerously or willingly misinformed put us all at risk.
At a time when we all need each other more than ever we cannot accommodate those who would harm our most vulnerable.
It would be a dereliction of care to do so.
Because it is not a matter of opinion, is it?
It is a matter of life and death.