But it seems someone is finally waking up to the idea that they are a terror threat.
This week volunteers at vaccination centres in Essex have been sent emails recommending they take part in counter-terror training, “in light of recent security events in the media”.
It follows months of protests outside hospitals, church halls, and leisure centres, in which the anti-vaxxers have tried to storm the building, threaten volunteers, and stop people from entering. It comes after Piers Corbyn and his acolytes filmed themselves haranguing pupils outside school gates, and in one particularly grim episode, 15-year-old wheelchair user Grace Baker-Earle was called a “lab rat” while trying to get her vaccination.
According to Health Secretary Sajid Javid, several children on school grounds have been injured in events like these. And he has backed Labour calls for fast-tracking the process to put local exclusion zones around vaccination centres, similar to those used to protect abortion clinics from disruption.
The training programme in question was first developed to help security guards and doormen spot and tackle terror attacks. It was designed by the government regulator for the security industry, and was introduced only last month, at the same time the head of MI5 said the fall of Afghanistan had “emboldened” terrorists.
It is usually 75 minutes long, and seems to have been drastically shortened for this, as the modules being offered to helpers take only 45 minutes to complete. NHS England says that no national decision has been taken to ask volunteers to do this. But at least one NHS trust wants to collect the e-certificate you can get for doing it, and at time of writing we’re waiting to hear how many others are doing the same.
But I say again – this week, volunteers at vaccination centres are being offered anti-terror training.
For years the anti-vax brigade have, to most of us, seemed like a self-indulgent band of mostly-harmless crusties, determined to depend on broccoli rather than medicine, and too mad to pay much mind to.
But now their ranks have been swollen by Far Right troublemakers, social media trolls searching their next dopamine hit, and those for whom a crisis is an opportunity to destabilise. Throw in the modern-day Alices in Wonderland who’ve fallen down an internet rabbit-hole of misinformation, reaffirmed by algorithms that show them only what they last interacted with, and there’s a sizeable, vocal minority inclined to chaos.
They are not the first such group, nor will they be the last. They are not decapitating people like ISIS, or fighting an uncivil war, like the IRA. But they are not innocent. They have probably already killed more people this year than both of those terror groups, and harmed a multitude more.
It’s bizarre that such damage can be caused by people unable to compute that a microchip can’t fit down a syringe, count the injections in their own arms since birth, or realise that the Covid jabs are the most widely-tested vaccines in all of human history. But here we are.
Because of them, pregnant women who are happy to take the ‘flu jab to protect them and their unborn child are refusing the Covid one. Otherwise-healthy people are being ventilated, because they believed ‘natural immunity’ was better than ‘immunity that gets a head start’. And NHS staff, who have always known that anti-vaxxers are a public health menace, are at the end of their tethers.
Crimes have already been committed, and more will be on the way. If even one vaccination centre finds it necessary to train its volunteers in how to deal with terrorism, then the upcoming winter won’t contain just Covid restrictions, but potentially anti-vaxx-inspired deaths, too.
The vaccine has gone, twice, into the arms of 49million Brits, or almost 80% of the UK population. The fact we all know someone who has nevertheless caught Covid is because we’re on the third, more transmissible, variant, and the fact most of those people only had the symptoms of a bad cold is because of the jab.
The booster rollout our constantly-updated immune systems need is bedevilled by the inability of GPs to deliver it, the need for so many to get the Pfizer vaccine which has more complex storage needs, and the logistics of getting people to a distant vaccination centre staffed by people who, this time round, also need to go to work.
But it won’t be helped, one bit, by making volunteers feel unsafe.
That is of course the point of these ‘protests’: to deter, undermine, and terrify.
The vaccination programme is so critical to security and stability that any threat to it should be treated as a threat to our country.
No victim of a terror attack is responsible for it. And no vax volunteer should need to be trained on how to deal with wingnuts who have abandoned common sense for social insensibility.
If a NHS trust has seen the risk, if the Health Secretary knows these “idiots” are “spreading vicious lies” that can hurt us all, then it’s time the Government told the security services to prioritise the threat of anti-vaxxers. Police should use their powers to arrest them on charges of harassment, intimidation, violent disorder, and conspiracy.
Failing that, we could just ask Scotland to provide a remote island where anti-vaxxers could be housed safely, without a single vaccine, doctor, or hospital to bother them.
We could go back in 10 years and see how many of them, and how many of us, survived.