It happens in the shower, mostly. That’s where I have conversations with the anti-vaxxers I love.
These conversations happen inside my head, and I do most of the talking.
The tone varies depending on my mood. Often, I’m furious. Sometimes, I’m pleading.
I always make many excellent points.
And it ends the same way every time, with them exclaiming: “Oh wow, I never thought about it like that. You’re right. I can’t believe what an idiot I’ve been. I will go and get vaccinated immediately.”
So far, this has not happened in real life.
Ugh, where to start?
Even though only around 10 per cent of Australian adults have so far refused to get vaccinated, everyone seems to know at least one of them.
I know a few.
Thanks to social media, it’s hard to avoid knowing the vaccination opinions of others, even people who are peripheral in our lives - old workmates, ex boyfriends, mates from school, the parents of our friends, the friends of our parents - and for most of this year, the topic of the COVID vaccination has dominated in real life and online.
It’s now common to watch arguments breaking out between someone’s friends or followers in the comments below any post about COVID. That’s mostly how we’ve learned who is unvaxxed. And who is unhinged.
It has been shocking to watch people you thought you knew, people you thought were rational and sane, sprouting nonsense about conspiracies and ‘sheeple’ and the mainstream media being ‘in on it’ and governments trying to kill us. It’s been a bitch of a year for learning that people you love have been radicalised.
Not everyone who is unvaxxed is out and proud. But even if someone is trying to fly under the radar, people talk.
The vaxxed know who the unvaxxed are. And no matter what the future brings, it’s going to be really hard to forget who didn’t do their part to protect the community like the rest of us did.
Up until just a few months ago, it never occurred to me that I would know any anti-vaxxers. Let alone that I would discover some I’m extremely close to and how that would test me in ways I never thought possible.
And yet here we are.
I can pinpoint the exact moment I went from being someone who simply had vaccinations and vaccinated her children, to a passionate advocate for it.
It was 2010 and I was sitting in my lounge room interviewing the weeping parents of a baby girl called Dana McCaffrey who died after catching whooping cough from someone in her community near Byron Bay.