The new Covid-19 vaccines are now becoming available for those wishing to take them. They have been produced at break-neck speed and although they have undergone a certain amount of testing, not everyone is convinced of their safety. Before being vaccinated it is therefore wise to have as much information about them as possible. As with every product which is advertised on the market objective information will not be found from those promoting it. This means in the case of these vaccines that the information put out by the vaccine companies, ministers with shares in vaccine companies, medical experts sponsored by vaccine companies and branches of the media receiving grants from these same companies cannot be relied on to provide a full and independent risk analysis of the products.

It is therefore a wise precaution for anyone considering taking the vaccine to investigate their potential risks and benefits for themselves and draw on as many independent sources of information as possible. Those who have had the opportunity to visit the vaccination hub on Stroud High Street before Christmas will have found a wealth of information and references to enable them to carry out their own research. Since each person is unique in terms of their constitution, health and outlook on life, their conclusions will undoubtedly vary. If, having thoroughly researched all aspects and weighed up the pros and cons a person decides to take the vaccine, they can stand confident of having made the right decision. Likewise another person will know why they choose not to be vaccinated.

Having access to all available information and being able to make free and independent choices is the most fundamental of democratic rights in a free country. I was therefore truly taken aback to read the statement made by our Stroud MP Siobhan Baillie which effectively called on people to blindly accept and believe the narrative of the mass advertising campaign currently underway. Surely as a member of a party ostensibly upholding choice and individual freedom, she should welcome an opportunity to share and discuss differing scientific research results – there is after all no ultimate certainty in science. Allowing only one view to prevail is surely the road to totalitarianism.

Bernard Jarman