To many, the anti-vax stance is seen as hypocritical – people will refuse preventative medical care, get sick, and then rely on doctors and medical technology to save them.
In response, Singapore is now taking a rather heavy-handed approach to anti-vaxxers – if you deny the COVID-19 vaccine, you must be prepared to pay up for treatment. As per a statement released on Monday, Singapore hospitals will no longer provide free healthcare to COVID-19 patients that voluntarily decline the vaccine, referencing the extreme strain unvaccinated patients are putting on the healthcare system.
While it may sound harsh, Singapore has a privatized healthcare system that is then subsidized by the government to varying degrees depending on the illness. With the COVID-19 outbreak, Singapore officials made an exception to the rule, allowing free and fully subsidized treatment. The announcement, therefore, removes this exception from unvaccinated people, meaning the patient will have to foot the bill themselves.
The move has divided experts, with some suggesting it is a matter of denying equity to all, while others state it is simply reverting back to a standard way of operating and cite the extreme impact of unvaccinated patients on hospital space.
“Unvaccinated persons make up a sizeable majority of those who require intensive inpatient care, and disproportionately contribute to the strain on our healthcare resources,” said the Ministry of Health in a press conference.
Note, this announcement only affects people eligible for vaccination that are choosing to decline the vaccine, so children under 12 and medically exempt individuals will still be covered.
This is not the first time hospitals and governments have made restrictions against anti-vaxxers in recent months. As hospitalizations continue to flood in and organs remain in short supply, one healthcare system in Colorado has taken to declining organ transplants to those that choose to forgo the jab. The rationale states that vital organs, of which there are only around 1 per 5 people requiring a transplant, should go to those best protecting themselves and the care they have received. Some called to question whether the same is done for overweight people with heart disease, or smokers with lung cancer, but with doctors having to decide who gets treatment and who does not during a pandemic, the "right" decision may be one out of a pool of tough choices.
Alongside Colorado, a hospital in Arkansas has an interesting take. They also believe in the right to forfeit all medical science, not just the vaccine, and so they now have a form stating that if you swear off the COVID-19 vaccine for religious reasons, you also forfeit all medications that contain fetal cell lines, including Tylenol and Sudafed. And believe us, suffering from COVID-19 without those is not a pleasant experience.