CONGRATULATIONS to Sharon Girardi, owner of Blaeneinon eco-retreat near Machynlleth.

Blaeneinon –according to its website “a special place”, where patrons enjoy mushroom foraging, looking for insects, and fashioning ornate staffs from local green wood– is, like most of the hospitality sector, struggling with the consequences of the pandemic.

Now, concerned for the safety of visitors to her mid-Wales idyll, she has introduced strict rules concerning guests’ vaccine status. “With great sadness,” Sharon announced on Blaeneinon’s website “we have made the decision that we will be unable to welcome folk on site that are ‘vaccinated’ [sic] with the experimental CV19 jab.” If you’ve had the jab, you’ll just have to fashion your staff elsewhere.

Wait, what? Why? Because “it would appear,” says Sharon, that spike proteins generated in your body by the jab “can be exhaled or excreted through the skin and are triggering reactions in folk around them who have not been injected.”

Oh, no. What reactions? An absolute plague of Egypt of reactions, according to Sharon.

Miscarriages. Severe bleeding. Nosebleeds in children who have vaccinated teachers, dogs and cats dropping dead after being stroked by the vaccinated. Testicles blowing up like footballs.

Crikey. Like Nicki Minaj was saying?

Yup. Just the same. On Monday, the potty-mouthed Trinidadian rapper tweeted a cautionary tale around the vaccine to her 22.7 million followers: “My cousin in Trinidad won’t get the vaccine cuz his friend got it & became impotent. His testicles became swollen.

His friend was weeks away from getting married, now the girl called off the wedding.”

Horrors! Who was that unlucky bloke? Minaj’s tweet set Trinidad’s health authorities on an island-wide wild goose chase to locate the disappointed, balloon-bollocked groom, but drew a blank. No-one in Trinidad, or for that matter anywhere in the world, has reported swollen balls as a side-effect of a Covid vaccine.

“Unfortunately,” said Dr Terrence Deyalsingh, Trinidad and Tobago’s seriously narked health minister, “we wasted so much time running down this false claim.”

After pursuing a vicious online beef with Chris Whitty and the Prime Minister, Minaj seems now to acknowledge that the story was a hoax and that she’d been had. Not so with Sharon.

Sharon, whose opinions (if accurately gauged from the content of her Facebook page) have always tended towards eccentricity, has been sent completely doolally by the lockdown; suckered by every bananas conspiracy theory doing the rounds on social media.

Notwithstanding Sharon’s selective admissions policy, Blaeneinon is fully booked until the end of September, presumably replete with like-minded hippies and conspiracy theorists. If ever there were a suitable target for a drone strike, this is it.

Paranoia about Covid-19 vaccines is understandable. And folk who are paranoid to start with need something to be paranoid about. With chemtrails failing to live up to their full potential as instruments of mass sterilisation, and 5G up and running without the predicted holocaust, it’s no surprise if people of a Piers Corbynite predisposition are seeing all kinds of conspiracies in the immunisation program.

But, like the stopped clock in the adage, just because you’re a conspiracy theorist doesn’t mean the Government isn’t plotting something sinister. And with the rollout of Covid vaccination to teenagers, it is worth stopping to ask if unquestioning acceptance of the benefits of the jab is right. Might loonies like Sharon have a point?

Not really. Overall, the vaccination program has been a triumph. mRNA vaccines are a neat bit of pharmacological innovation, and are working well. Some side-effects, inevitably, have appeared: the AstraZeneca vaccine is associated with an increased risk of blood clotting.

There is a link between the Pfizer shot and myocarditis (potentially fatal inflammation of the heart) in men. Overall, though, the risk associated with the vaccines is low.

When you vaccinate almost an entire country, some people –albeit very few– who would not have been seriously harmed by Covid-19 will be killed by the vaccine. That aside, the benefit of the vaccines, both to individuals and to society, colossally outweighs the risk of side-effects.

For children, though, this doesn’t necessarily hold true. Children are at almost no risk from Covid-19. Vaccinating teenagers isn’t for their benefit at all; it’s to protect adults.

The Government’s own advisory body, the Joint Committee on Vaccines and Immunisation (JCVI) says that “there is more uncertainty in the precision of the harm-benefit balance when considering the impacts on children and young people themselves.” This means they think the risk to children may outweigh the benefit to the people they are supposed to be protecting.

Despite this, the Government is rolling out the vaccine program to all 12 to 15 year olds. And when you vaccinate millions of children, it means a dozen or so of them may die as a result.

The primary rule of medicine is “first, do no harm.” There are no other circumstances where children are exposed to medicines that do them no good, entirely for the benefit of others.

It is unethical for the Department for Health to rely on peer pressure amongst students (and blackmail from the teaching unions) to encourage teenagers to take a medicine that may harm them.

And the whole evidence base for vaccinating school-age children may be flawed: the JCVI believes that administering the vaccines will cause significant disruption to school timetables, and a recent study showed that the largest factor in Covid-19 outbreaks in schools wasn’t contact between children at school, or between children and others away from school; it was teachers bringing the virus in from their own contacts outside the campus.

If any individual parent thinks it’s a risk worth taking, that’s up to them. But a lot of us will
find ourselves agreeing with Sharon on this one.