An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
AS A VACCINE for the COVID-19 virus slowly gets closer and closer, the question arises whether it should be mandatory to be vaccinated.
Estimates on when a vaccine will be available range from a couple of months to well into next year, but there’s no question that one or more will be successfully developed, tested and put on the market.
Such a vaccine is regarded as the silver bullet to save us from the virus. Masks, hand social distancing and shutdowns are an interim measure until we get to the point of mass immunity.
Clearly, if we were all — every one of us — to be vaccinated, getting rid of the COVID curse would come much quicker. We may never be free of it entirely but we’ll get to the point where it doesn’t dominate our lives.
An Ipsos public opinion poll back in May found that more than two-thirds of Canadians believed vaccination for all should be mandatory. In B.C., a Leger poll found 60 per cent in favour. That may well have changed as the pandemic has ground along but it’s quite possible that most still support it.
The feds haven’t ruled it out. But Australia and the U.S. have both declared it won’t be mandatory. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says no way.
Mandatory COVID-19 shots would be neither enforceable or ethical. But, you say, Mel, you’re on record in favour of mandatory mask wearing. What’s the difference?
There’s a big difference between wearing a mask to protect others, and having something injected into your body. And because anti-COVID-19 vaccines are being developed so quickly, there’s a huge trust issue around their safety.
Vaccinations aren’t forced upon the general population in Canada. We don’t do it for the flu nor the measles, for example. It’s also much different for healthcare workers than for the general public.
Anti-vaxxers shouldn’t take comfort in this. The vast majority of Canadians will opt for a vaccine when it becomes available. But it shouldn’t be mandatory.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.