Peter Rhodes on waiting for rhino, settling for Brino and getting the vaccine to people who don't want it

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

Are you ready for this?
Are you ready for this?

Each year, in the days leading up to Christmas, I read Charles Dickens' wonderful little ghost story, A Christmas Carol. And each year I find something I had missed before. Like this snippet. After the visitation of the first spirit, Scrooge braces himself for the next until he attains that frame of mind where “nothing between a baby and a rhinoceros would have astonished him very much.”

What a great description of preparedness. And now, from rhino to Brino . . .

If it had been up to me, and millions like me, Brexit would have been settled years ago. We are those uncounted, unrepresented folk who were perfectly happy to keep all trading arrangements with the EU so long as we cut the political links which are creating a European empire. This so-called Brino (Brexit in Name Only) solution would been approved quickly and hard-line Brexiteers would have howled in disappointment. But it would have been merely the first step. Little by little we would have eased our way out of the economic EU, following the example of Ireland which, after the 1922 Treaty, changed its status repeatedly until it was out of the UK, out of the Empire, out of the Commonwealth and nobody quite knew how. The art of getting your independence is to think ahead not weeks, nor even years, but decades.

This screen message comes from the people at E.on who are allowing me to pay my electricity bill but not to see it: "Sorry your account isn't available while we fix it." Again? In plain English?

If you're black, Asian or poor you are more likely to catch and die of Covid-19. So how bizarre it is that the people most likely to decline the Covid-19 vaccination are black, Asian or poor.

While surveys reveal that 75 per cent of the UK population would accept vaccination, the figure in ethnic-minority communities is a worrying 57 per cent. And while 84 per cent of highest earners would get vaccinated, that figure falls to just 70 per cent among lower earners. These figures, from the Royal Society of Public Health, suggest that “vaccine resisters” are influenced by a variety of cultural, religious and conspiracy-theory factors.

How can we help people who refuse to help themselves? One answer is very simple. We do nothing. These are adults and if they choose to believe that a supreme being will protect them or the vaccine is part of a sinister mind-control programme, then that is their business and we have no right to intervene. But when Canadian health officials confronted vaccine resisters some years ago, they did something wiser. They accepted that thousands of Canadians, for historical reasons, did not trust their government.

So the officials recruited community role models, printed the advice in all relevant languages and took the pro-vaccine message out to local meetings in town and village halls. When it was explained properly, in words the people understood, ignorance diminished and vaccinations soared. It's got to be worth a try.

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