In a recent opinion piece in Macleans Magazine, Scott Gilmore wrote what I expect many vaccinated Canadians felt about those who still refuse to get vaccinated and help end this pandemic:
We need to begin treating the vaccine holdouts as the fools they are. It is not fair that reasonable and responsible Canadians should pay the price for their deadly selfishness. No more soothing tones and patience. Time for the stick.
The stick in question that Gilmore suggests is withholding services and access to the unvaccinated, as was recently announced in France and Italy: without proof of vaccinations, people there cannot enter airports, restaurants, hospitals, shopping centers or take a train. When those laws were passed, millions of previously reluctant people got their vaccinations within a couple of days in both nations.
Let’s do it here, too! Enough mollycoddling. Let’s put some stick about.
I’d even suggest that refusing a vaccination should be taken as opting out of the public healthcare system. After all, if you refuse to participate in helping it manage the pandemic, why should you be treated if you get infected by the virus? And if you get caught trying to bluff your way with fake ID? An automatic jail sentence. No appeal. Maybe a jail specifically reserved for the unvaccinated.
Why do we need such draconian measures? Well, because there are still far too many anti-social idiots and selfish assholes who refuse to get vaccinated, who refuse to help end the pandemic, who refuse to accept any obligations or responsibilities to the rest of our nation. Yes, assholes is the correct term, albeit more polite than they deserve. As Gilmore notes,
Who are these people? The University of Sydney conducted a study of the unvaccinated in Australia, Canada, the U.K. and the U.S. It found that, in comparison to the population at large, these people tended to have “less agreeable personalities”, be less cooperative with others, more selfish, and more extroverted. (In the vernacular, the term is “assholes”.)
Adding to this mix we also have the gullible, people who believe Anthony Fauci created the pandemic, or that Bill Gates is putting tracking chips in the vaccines. And, there are of course the misled. It is not a coincidence that Fox News viewers are far less likely to believe the vaccine works, according to a recent Axios/Ipsos poll.
And among the rightwingers are those who spew piffle about their “freedoms” and “rights” being violated if you even suggest some sort of “passport” or proof of vaccination (what about the “rights” of the rest of us to live in a safe, healthy world, free of your idiocy and selfishness?).
Let’s put that codswallop to rest: you need to wear shoes and clothes to eat in a restaurant; you need a licence to drive and to own a gun; you need to show identification in dozens of situations to get access, parking passes, permits, etc. You need to show permits when you build even on your own property. You need to show a receipt when you take something from a store (shop at Costco? You’ll know about lining up to show your receipt). If you travel abroad, you likely need to get vaccinated for several common tropical or dangerous diseases before you can get travel insurance. Own a dog? You need a licence and proof of rabies vaccination.
Living in a community, living in a society, living with public services, with neighbours, with community facilities, stores, and businesses has limits, rules, laws, and requirements. Period. You don’t want them? Move to the woods, off the grid. Otherwise start acting like a responsible adult. Stop whining about your “rights.”
Slowly, some institutions, businesses, facilities, and even governments are starting to take steps to curb the spread. Georgian College, for example, will require vaccinations for all students and teachers this fall. Federal employees and both air and train passengers will require vaccinations by the end of October. At the same time, the province is closing mass vaccination clinics, requiring people to depend on rare pop-up clinics, or local drive-through clinics. Failing that, they will have to ask their family doctors for advice.
Will people make the effort to get a shot when those sites close? I doubt many of the unvaccinated will bother because they are already ideologically ossified in their resistance. We have about an 82% vaccination rate in Canada (72% one shot, 63% both shots), But as Gilmore points out, vaccination rates have stalled:
Our daily vaccination rate is dropping off a cliff. We are now administering 1/3 the number of doses per day compared to a month ago. Those who remain unvaccinated will not be lured into line. We need a stick.
Among the anti-vaxxers are the hardcore, virulently selfish idiots who protest measures like mask-wearing, hand-washing, lockdowns, and social distancing. They protest these minor inconveniences on the streets of our cities as if they were being forced to wear yellow stars and herded into cattle trucks. Yet police treat them with respect and indulgence and allow them to continue when they should all be arrested and fined for endangering the rest of us. Lock ’em up!
For all the ‘rights” and “freedoms” they whine about, none of these covidiots ever talk about their responsibilities and obligations living in an open, democratic society entails. They only care about their own convenience and their access to shopping and services.
Let’s be clear: if you’re among these immature, anti-social, and irresponsible people — protestors and unvaccinated alike — then YOU are the reason for the continuing pandemic, for the continuing measures, and the lockdowns because YOU refuse to accept any civil or social responsibility. Don’t blame the vaccinated for these measures. The fourth wave is on YOU.
Is a passport a violation of your “right” to travel? Is a driver’s licence a violation of your “right” to drive? No? Well, a vaccination passport will not be a violation of your “right” to shop, either.
Are these measures really as draconian as opponents whine? Not at all. When I was growing up, school kids were issued a “passport” that recorded our vaccinations given in school by a public health nurse: polio, smallpox, measles, and others. No one whined about freedoms and rights then because we were eradicating crippling and even fatal diseases that had plagued humankind since before the Sumerians. That passport was a thing of pride, not repression. It showed we were safe from them, that we took our responsibility to the community’s health seriously.
But that was long before Fox “news”, the internet, rightwing talk radio, QAnon, and social media became platforms for spreading lies, wingnut conspiracies (including some really, really stupid fantasies that you’d have to be mostly brain dead to even consider), political claptrap about rights, and unfounded, anti-intellectual accusations against scientists, researchers, and other experts.
If you follow the news (the REAL media, not the Fox ideological screeds) about COVID-19, you’ll know that most of the new cases are among the unvaccinated. A typical story from CTV News yesterday was headlined, “Ontario reports another 510 cases of COVID-19, most infections found in unvaccinated people.” A recent story on Simcoe.com was headlined, “Unvaccinated people 8 times more likely to get infected, top doctor says.”
These aren’t unique or rare: media is FULL of such headlines, more so now than ever. How daft, how deliberately ignorant do you need to be to ignore the facts and remain unvaccinated?
In the USA, a story from C/NET was headlined, “99% of COVID deaths are now of unvaccinated people, experts say.” Not surprisingly, in the USA, the gap between vaccinated Democrats and Republicans is widening, with only 35% of those in Repugnican counties getting the shot, compared to almost 47% in Democrat-voting counties. In part that’s because more Repugnicans believe in a host of wacky conspiracies, pseudoscience and pseudo-medicine claptrap, religious nonsense (particularly from the Talibangelist con artists), bipartisanship, and the Big Lie of the PutinTrump camp (“We won the election”). About 60% of the USA population has received one dose, and only 51% is fully vaccinated. But there, too, vaccination rates are stalled. A full quarter of the USA’s new cases are in the Repugnican-anti-science-led state of Florida.
At the same time, Prof Sir Andrew Pollard, the head of the Oxford Vaccine Group has said “vaccines did not stop the spread of Covid meant reaching the threshold for overall immunity in the population was “mythical”.” However, the Guardian article noted,
Data from a recent React study conducted by Imperial College London suggests that fully vaccinated people aged 18 to 64 have about a 49% lower risk of being infected compared with unvaccinated people. The findings also indicated that fully vaccinated people were about half as likely to test positive after coming into contact with someone who had Covid (3.84%, down from 7.23%).
So while not invulnerable to the Delta variant, vaccinated people are much less at risk, further underscoring the need to get everyone vaccinated. But that argument still won’t sway the ideologues and anti-vaxxers. Their desire to shop and get their hair styled is paramount.
We live in a world where anti-intellectualism, anti-science, anti-fact is on the rise and it’s a virus in itself. Coupled with the myth that it’s better to be a selfish individual than a member of a collaborative, cooperative community, this is toxic.
I agree with Gilmore: we can’t treat these people with respect or kid gloves any more: their behaviour is anti-social, threatening, and harmful. We need to use a stick otherwise we will all continue to suffer as a result of their selfishness and ignorance.
PS. Yes, I realize there need to be medical exemptions from vaccinations, but that’s a very small, and easily-identified percentage of the unvaccinated population. Religious exemptions? Forget it. Faith — no matter whose or what — does not top public health.