It always surprises me what kind of women are anti-vaxxers in Berlin. When I think of Anglo anti-vaxxers, I think of real hippies, total Christians or, to be frank, almost nazis. But the kind of Berlin mothers who will come out with anti-vax stuff often seem to be slightly too “normal” or “intelligent” to be this skeptical about one of humanity’s greatest achievements. Or maybe just too cool? I feel like you can be quite cool here – and still be a bit of an Impfgegner.
“You know people think all anti-vaxxers are dumb and ignorant,” says my friend Kristen. Nice, funky, cool, feminist, NORMAL German Kristen. Cool. Kristen is cool. I know she’s cool. She has cool hair, and a kind of silvery blue fringe. She’s cool. She’s my cool friend Kristen.
“Yeah,” I say. “I don’t think they’re dumb. I just think they’re wrong and confused. I actually think one of the reasons we should introduce mandatory vaccinations is literally just because having the choice is too confusing for people. Sometimes I wonder whether humans can really cope with choice? Like, maybe if we had the option of not wearing a seatbelt there would be all these theories about how it’s bad for your neck and stuff? But I realize I sound a tiny bit Soviet-y right now.”
“Oh, they can’t introduce an Impfpflicht in Germany,” Kristen says cheerfully. “Because of all the Stasi stuff, you know?”
I find it weird that Germans can get over their Stast-Vergangenheit enough to have a weird Meldepflicht, (which, by the way, in my entire twenty years in this country I have never been able to get my mother to understand, she STILL thinks it is a police database of paedophiles and sexual deviants) or a Schulpflicht (which, in my eyes, should be abolished), but mandatory vaccinations is a step too far. I actually think the police knowing where everyone in the fucking country lives is creepy as fuck, and the state forcing us to send our kids into schools is authoritarian as hell, but a little needle in your skin for a couple of seconds for the good of the whole society is, I dunno, kind of a Pippifax to me. But what do I know. I guess it is a legacy of the Stasi times, huh? Without wanting to sound too flippant, all those sterilized athletes and that, people are a bit traumatized?
“I suppose they can’t,” I say.
“People say Impfgegner like it’s such an insult. Impfgegner. Like it’s such a dehumanizing word.”
“Yeah,” I say. “I suppose it is.”
“I am not an Impfgegner,” she says.
“Of course you’re not!” I say. I know she isn’t, her haircut is too funky and cool. Blue fringe and that.
“I’m an Impfquestioner,” she says.
I stare at her. Maybe her hair is not quite as funky and cool as I think it is? I stare at her blue fringe and it gets dorkier by the second.
“An Impfquestioner?” I say.
“You’d have to be stupid not to question why the government’s wanting to inject your kids, wouldn’t you?”
“It’s erm. So they don’t get measles?” I say politely. Her fringe isn’t ironic, I decide. I thought it was an ironic fringe. It was never ironic.
“Of course I immunize my kids,” she says. “But I just do a different schedule than the state wants me to.”
“Oh,” I say, gulping.
“And the measles one, for example,” she says brightly, “is not on my schedule. Not for the,” nice long pause, “foreseeable future.”
FUCKING HELL I AM FRIENDS WITH AN IMPFGEGNERIN!
There have been a lot of debates recently, on Facebook, for example, about whether, when we finally get a corona vaccine (DR DROSTEN WE BELIEVE IN YOU 100%!), there will need to be an Impfpflicht. Various people, some of them Nazis, believe weird things about Bill Gates, things which kind of bore me, to be honest.
There are conspiracy theories I kind of “like” about corona. It was invented by China because they knew the Chinese were more obedient than Westerners and so more Westerners would die and they could take over the world! It was a cure for HIV that got out of hand! It is a biological weapon which attacks the organs of people of colour! That kind of thing. But the Bill Gates stuff bores me. So there are a few people who claim that when we finally do get a vaccine, there will be mandatory vaccinations all over the world and everyone will get injected by this Bill Gatesy substance. But there are also some Berliners, really non-Nazi people, who think that when we do finally get this vaccine made, because of mums like Kristen, we will need an Impfpflicht.
What do you guys think? Maybe I am being super un-German here, but I don’t really understand why Schulpflicht and Meldepflicht are okay, but an Impfpflicht or a Maskenpflicht, which may save so many lives, totally Stasi. But maybe we won’t need mandatory vaccinations, anyways?
This is what my solution would be: Germany should act like there’s an Impfpflicht for the coronavirus vaccine, but it won’t actually be an actual Pflicht. We won’t go to our own personal doctors in our own personal, intimate doctors’ practice with our own little AOK cards and sitting down and having a nice chat about if we feel like getting immunized against corona or not.
We will not be writing about our corona vaccinations in our stupid yellow Impfpasses (which are the smallest things ever made into official documents ever). We won’t be talking about it as if it’s a choice. Instead, the Gesundheitsamt will write to everyone in the Bezirk, demanding they come in and get the lovely jab. And if you don’t go, you get a warning. And if you don’t go then, you get a really STERN warning. But maybe – just maybe – if we do things this way, you won’t actually need a hefty fine for ignoring the warnings, because enough people will do what they’re told to protect us anyway.
What do you guys think? Have you ever been surprised to discover an otherwise very clever and cool seeming German is a secret anti-vaxxer? And will mandatory vaccinations be our only way out of this corona nightmare?