Compulsory vaccination, as in much of Europe, is a step too far. It will create too much division, create martyrs among a small group of anti-vaccination extremists, and will be impossible to police (presumably the unvaccinated will simply be fined – we aren’t going to get police officers with needles to pin them to the floor).
And yet, it impacts on so many areas of life, and is so important to getting back to an economy that operates normally, it has become impossible for companies to remain neutral.
Spotify might like to pretend that it isn’t a publisher. But that simply isn’t going to work. Its podcasts have a huge audience, and it is far more influential than most broadcasters or newspapers.
Giving time and space to anti-vaccination campaigners is putting life and health at risk.
If artists don’t want to be associated with that, and if subscribers want to switch to listening to music through Amazon or Apple or one of the rival streamers – or, heck, dusting off the old Joni CDs at the back of the attic – then it can hardly complain.
Likewise, John Lewis may think it sounds more generous to pay full sick pay to their unvaccinated staff when they have to take 10 days off after coming into contact with Covid. So might other companies.
And yet the costs of that ripple through the entire economy. In effect, the jabbed are required to subsidise the unjabbed, and that is hardly fair either.
In reality, the time for sitting on the fence has long since passed. Across every major developed economy, countries are realising the virus is now endemic. It isn’t going to suddenly go away, and we will need to live with it.
Regular vaccination will be the only way to deal with that. If some people want to object, then that is up to them, but they can’t necessarily be expected to be given an airing on major media platforms, they can’t expect to be given the same sick pay as vaccinated colleagues, and in some cases they may find that their employment options are limited.
Companies hate taking sides on any controversial issue. They will lose some customers either way. But right now, businesses need to be clear whether they are pro or anti-vax. Neutrality is not going to work any longer.