Is it time for vaccine passports?

Now that we’ve reached, as we knew we would, the “should vaccines be mandatory?/do we need a passport?” debate stage of the pandemic it’s been interesting to watch the reaction of the political set.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford, true to form, is pandering to the deepest reaches of his party’s base with a hard no to both questions.

If past is precedent, that means we will have vaccine mandates in at least some situations (schools perhaps?) and passports for all before long. Ford has performed more flips than most circus acrobats since the pandemic began. I guess he hopes everyone will forget his hastily discarded plan to have police become Ontario’s hall monitors with powers to question anyone found beyond their abode, now that he’s placed himself firmly in the “personal choice” camp.

Similarly, provincial opposition leader Andrea Horwath was compelled to backpedal furiously after asserting people have a “constitutional right” not to get vaccinated, which put her closer to Ford’s position than that of many NDP supporters.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, on the other hand, announced last week his government is pondering making vaccinations mandatory for all federal public servants as well as employees in federally regulated industries.

On passports, the feds are trying to get provinces and territories to issue standardized digital vaccine records which could comply with international standards for proof of vaccination and are aiming to introduce a national system at some point.

Simply put, those who protected themselves and their community and got vaccinated deserve documentation that would allow them to access whatever activities society elects to make provisional.

The Ontario government will eventually have to recognize this as the feds already have.

While it probably should remain a “personal choice” to get vaccinated or not (it’s hard to imagine what enforcement of a vaccine mandate would be like, but anything involving physical restraint would be decidedly bad optics), it’s also true that governments, businesses and individuals can make a “personal choice” on how much interaction they are prepared to engage in with those who elect to remain fully vulnerable to contracting and spreading a virus that brought the global community to its knees for the better part of two years.

Support for extreme measures actually runs fairly high. An Aug. 5 CTV News poll indicates 53 per cent of Canadians support mandatory vaccinations for people who can be vaccinated; another 21% somewhat support it. Only 16% oppose the idea, 8% somewhat oppose it, and 2% are unsure.

Obviously, exceptions to mandates or passport requirements should be made for those with legitimate medical and religious objections, but those are both rarities.

There are simply no major religions telling adherents not to be vaccinated.

As for medical exceptions, the general consensus indicates risk is mainly among those relative few allergic to individual ingredients in the vaccine, which should be determined in consultation with medical professionals.

Of course, there are any number of concerns being shared among the vaccine hesitant, ranging from the absurd (micro-chips and magnetism) to the serious (how could safe vaccines be developed so quickly).

The Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health website’s “Myths and facts about the COVID-19 vaccines” section has some great information on such topics – well worth a read no matter where you stand on the issues.

And if it turns out the doomsayers were right and the vaccinated grow a third nipple, as has been facetiously suggested through many a rambling discussion of late, what of it? If we all have one, it will become, like so many things since the waning of the Before Times, “the new normal” (perhaps we could use the prospect of retiring that grating phase as an added incentive).

Seriously though, vaccines are the obvious difference maker in the reduction of new case numbers from over 4,000 a day back in April to around 200 a day recently.

Those who think it worth the risk to avoid rolling up their sleeve might want to consider that between June 12 and July 10, 95.7% of COVID-19 cases, 97.4% of hospitalizations, 99.5% of ICU admissions and 95.8% of deaths occurred in unvaccinated or partially vaccinated individuals.

Grim math that can only add up to one thing: you’re better off vaccinated.

North Wellington Community News