Gary Burgess: The dark and sinister world of the anti-vax brigade

Credit: ITV Channel TV

“You’re dangerous…”

“Scum…”

“You’re in the pocket of big pharma…”

I experienced what, I believe, is called a ‘pile-on’ this week, where a small but reasonably organised band of people – bolstered by a bunch of clearly-automated social media accounts from the UK and beyond – bombard you in their hundreds with their disgust at my daring to report how Covid-19 vaccines are saving lives.

Let’s be really clear about this: vaccines are making a massive difference and proving *the* key to getting Jersey and the rest of the world through this pandemic.

But the social media onslaught, including whole threads of arguably-libellous comments about me, my character, and my motives weren’t the end of it.

Yesterday, as I returned to the ITV Channel TV newsroom to edit a report I’d just filmed with a group of young people about why they’d chosen to be vaccinated, as well as hearing understandable reticence from some about getting their jab, I was handed an envelope that had been delivered for my attention.

“This legal and lawful notice of liability is designed to be used as evidence in court if needed…” it began.

It was a three-page threat of legal action for, again, daring to report that vaccines are saving lives. Oops, said it again!

I won’t go into any details about who sent the letter as I, frankly, don’t want to offer them the oxygen of publicity, but I thought it worth sharing some of the concerted efforts that a tiny handful of people are going to to spread absolute lies and misinformation about the efficacy of vaccines, about what they’re made of, and about the risks involved.

Of course there are risks with any and all medications – go look at the small print on the leaflet that comes with a packet of paracetamol – but, in almost all cases, the risk of both Covid and Long Covid are greater than the risks of the vaccines.

But, to share facts with the anti-vax lobby, is to waste both time and energy. They have their own counter-factuals from the dark recesses of the internet – the sort of places you could find a perfectly legitimate looking report proving black is white if you looked hard enough. It’s all out there!

Why am I sharing this?

Well, first up, to be absolutely clear about my motives in reporting on the vaccination programme: that vaccines are saving lives. Oops, sorry. Can’t help myself.

But also to personally thank the overwhelming majority of islanders who have turned to actual facts to make their own personal choice as to whether to get jabbed. Most have chosen to, some have chosen not to. And that is what free will is all about.

In the meantime, just in case you were wondering: vaccines are saving lives.