I have seen firsthand the most catastrophic reaction to an immunization.
35 years ago, in the Plummer Hospital emergency, I saw a 2-year-old baby boy who developed encephalitis after receiving his MMR (Measles-Mumps-Rubella) vaccine.
He was flown to Sick Kids in Toronto, but ended up severely and permanently brain-damaged, in an almost vegetative state, requiring intensive care for the rest of his life.
Encephalitis has been reported in association with administration of measles vaccine in approximately 1 per 1,000,000 doses distributed in North America, which is much lower than the incidence observed with natural measles disease (1 per 1,000 cases).
I trusted Medical Science as to the validity of this enormous cost-benefit ratio and did not hesitate to have my 2 kids receive their MMR vaccine or any other recommended vaccines.
Vaccine refusal is hurting all of us.
The rich countries of Europe and North America made a catastrophic fundamental error in allowing refusal of COVID vaccination at all.
Akin to Donald Trump giving false equivalence to Nazi white supremacists and people protesting their vile ideology, governments and media, particularly social media, in industrialised Western countries, have shot themselves in the head by allowing anti-vaxxers any oxygen whatsoever.
Misinformation is rampant.
The Internet, both a blessing and a curse, has allowed devilish lies, propaganda and a discredited fraud masquerading as science to infect the minds of millions of people.
Unfortunately, there’s no vaccine that can inoculate someone against a counterfactual, unscientific mindset.
If leaders had just followed purely medical advice and imposed mandates for vaccines and vaccine passports as soon as vaccines were available, Canada, the US, the UK, Australia, and the countries of the European Union, would be back to near normal, societally, educationally and economically.
With mandates, well over 95% of eligible populations would have been fully vaccinated already, (the failure to include children in clinical trials in 2020 was a huge blunder), achieving absolute herd immunity and allowing life to return to near-normality, something that still feels so distant now.
Anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists would have their cherished “Free-dumb” back.
As a steadily rising number of fully vaccinated Canadians emerge from hiding to test the gradual return to pre-pandemic normalcy, a conundrum looms: what to do about those who, for whatever reason, haven’t had a shot?
Striking the proper balance between public health and personal freedom, and figuring out whether one must be relinquished to protect the other, will become increasingly key as the country reopens and new variants lead to new surges this fall and winter.
For a growing number of jurisdictions and institutions, the solution is a vaccine passport, a document the bearer can show as proof of immunization against the coronavirus in order to be granted certain freedoms.
On the flip side, those who can’t produce such evidence because they wouldn’t get vaccinated could and should be denied access to work, businesses, flights, school, university dorms, and any large public gatherings, to name just a few potential inconveniences.
The raging Covid-19 pandemic reinforces the idea that our personal choices affect everybody around us.
Although you have a right to your own body, your choice to willfully be sick ends where another’s right to be healthy begins.
Freedom doesn’t mean “I can do whatever I want, whenever I want.”
When we choose to live in a society, there are certain obligations, both moral and legal, to which we are bound.
You cannot inflict harm or infringe on the rights and liberties of those around you.
Your moral and legal obligations to the safety of others can even curtail combinations of your rights.
Even though consuming alcohol and driving are both legal activities, they are not legal when performed together.
Over 1,300 people die every year in Canada because people choose to exercise their “rights” inappropriately.
The exact same reasoning applies to vaccination.
There is no moral difference between a drunk driver and a willfully unvaccinated person.
Both are selfishly, recklessly, wilfully and knowingly putting the lives of everyone they encounter at risk.
Their behaviour endangers the health, safety and livelihood of the innocent bystanders who happen to have the misfortune of being in their path.
There is one and only one legitimate reason to skip a vaccine: being immunocompromised.
Everyone who can be vaccinated should be vaccinated, in order to prevent the spread of disease.
This is a protection we demand even for our pet animals: kennels will turn your pet away if they aren’t properly vaccinated.
In Ontario, the law is that unless they have a valid exemption, children who attend primary or secondary school must be immunized against:
– meningitis (meningococcal disease)
– whooping cough (pertussis)
– chickenpox (varicella) – required for children born in 2010 or later
As a parent, you must:
– provide proof of your child’s immunization, a “vaccine passport”, to your local public health unit
– keep immunization information on that “vaccine passport” up to date
There are rules we all have to play by and responsibilities we have to live up to if we want to live in a society together.
No public or private school, workplace, event venue or other institution should allow a non-exempt, unvaccinated person through their doors.
A basic concern for the health and safety of others is the price it costs to participate in society.
Ethicists, privacy advocates and civil liberties groups have warned that such mandates might create a new two-tier society, benefiting those who have been vaccinated and ostracizing those who haven’t.
Well that it should.
A raging global pandemic that has brought the planet to a standstill is not the time for our leaders to be responding with slow, timid, incremental measures.
What apocalyptical scenario would it take for government to mandate universal vaccination and vaccine passports – a COVID death rate of 5%?…10%??
Strict mandates for vaccination and vaccine passports would have restored pre-pandemic normalcy already.
Leaders should grow a spine and lead, not just listen to the loudest, most strident voices.
It is inexcusable that society has reached this point.