UnHerd with Freddie Sayers

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Dr Steve James: I’m willing to lose my job over vaccine mandates

Steve James is a critical care consultant at King’s College Hospital in London. When Health Secretary Sajid Javid visited last Friday, he asked the NHS staff about what they thought of the forthcoming mandates that will make Covid vaccination a condition of deployment for NHS staff. Dr James spoke out, saying why he was against the mandate and why he hadn’t taken the vaccine himself.

It made headlines across the UK media, in particular coming from a Cambridge-educated NHS frontline doctor. Dr James came in to the UnHerd studio to explain his position in more detail to Freddie Sayers.

While he does not think of himself as ‘anti-vax’ (he dislikes the label), he argues that there’s nothing wrong with individuals preferring not to take vaccines if they so choose. Nevertheless, he accepts that vaccines have had an important effect on Covid hospitalisation rates. “Undoubtedly the vaccines have made a big difference,” he says.

But he objects to the simplistic messaging around vaccination, saying that because Covid is so much more dangerous to older people and vulnerable groups, the insistence on universal vaccination (including making examples of people who refuse) is inappropriate.

Dr James has had Covid (he doesn’t know when, but tests positive for antibodies). But he admits he hadn’t taken the vaccine even for the period of months before he tested for antibodies, because he preferred to wait a period to fully understand the extent of any side effects.


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