OTTAWA – Having botched any pretense of containing the second wave of COVID-19 with an effective blitz of infection testing, screening and isolation, Canadian politicians have a chance to redeem themselves.
The smiling story of this terribly sad year is the arrival of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine, which is expected to be rolled out to rolled-up sleeves across Canada in limited numbers next week.
It is what will follow that will decide the electoral popularity of the Prime Ministers and, while not responsible for the delivery of health care, of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
While retired military generals are set up as downfall guys if the deployment goes off the rails, politicians will still bear the success or failure of the vaccination operation.
This is a high-risk mission – and it must be accomplished.
There will be nonsense and possibly panic as vulnerable Canadians stare at those they think are less deserving of the vaccine in front of them in the queue.
There will undoubtedly be distribution faults or interprovincial distortions in this massive mobilization effort.
And, if last year’s shameful patterns continue, residents of long-term care facilities and their caregivers will be trapped once again.
But the trickier part comes later in the deployment: dealing with anti-vaxxers.
There is a legitimate argument that the vaccine should be mandatory given that around two-thirds of the population is needed for community immunity and the vaccine can only work for six months to a year.
In other words, if Canada does not achieve widespread vaccine compliance by next fall, this microscopic monster could stage a third wave comeback among the unvaccinated.
Now, for the record, this writer can’t wait to get it. Pick an arm, any arm, and I’ll stand in line for hours without hesitation or fear to take the photo, all the while booking my flights for a winter getaway anywhere as a quick fix for my pent-up travel bug.
But there is an understandable reaction in a segment of the population that watches the breathtaking speed of vaccine development, mixes up stories of certain side effects in the test groups, and rejects the needle.
They aren’t overly cautious Neanderthals, but they must be bombarded with persuasive arguments, accurate information, and twisted influencers to reinforce the pro-vaccination message before the government decides to make it mandatory.
There is already talk of immunity passports for travel and companies laying off employees who refuse the vaccine.
After all, who could blame businesses that are on the verge of insolvency for most of 2020 by trying to force employees to protect themselves against a virus that has nearly destroyed their livelihoods?
If vaccines against measles, mumps and other childhood illnesses are mandatory in Ontario public schools, there is arguably no reason why the COVID vaccination could not be added to the list. across Canada before the students return in September.
And contact sports organizations have good reason to consider a mandatory vaccine for players and perhaps spectators before the stadiums fill up next year.
But more than the heavy hand of Big Brother, deploying common sense will be the best weapon in combating those who believe that the hit for a cure is worse than the impacts of disease on health.
“Who doesn’t need to be vaccinated?” Quipped one of my doctor friends. “The person who likes to live their life this way; wants to stay locked up; never board an airplane; do not send their children to school; never see loved ones from out of town; plans to work from home indefinitely; sleeps better on a ventilator and thinks indwelling catheters are “super convenient”. ”
Now that’s funny, but it masks a serious message to the suspicious.
Generalized immunization is the fastest and safest way to get back to normal life for all of us.
But there’s another compelling reason why it’s obvious: the most likely unvaccinated victim is you.
This is the essential.