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Like it or not, COVID-19 vaccine mandates are coming to Canada.
Whether they are requested from the government for certain jobs and activities, or carried out in a piecemeal fashion by the private sector, Canadians can expect to see more aspects of society requiring proof of vaccination in the coming weeks and months.
and with a The fourth wave is underway in most parts of the country Before restarting schools and Borders reopen for some fully vaccinated travelers Next month, experts say it’s time to put vaccine mandates in place before another potential surge.
“They’re coming – one way or another,” said Rewat Dionandan, a global health epidemiologist and assistant professor at the University of Ottawa.
“Do you want to do it while we are calm in the water? Or do you want to do it when the storm is raging around us?”
Territories choose their own adventure
Instead of a coordinated nationwide approach, a patchwork system of vaccine certification is emerging across Canada with some provinces completely opposing the concept while others fully embrace it.
Quebec took the first bold step to announce this week Vaccine passports for non-essential services, such as bars, restaurants, gyms and festivals, will be commissioned on September 1 in an effort to avoid a re-implementation of lockdown measures.
British Columbia announced Thursday that Anyone who works in long-term care and living facilities In the province will require vaccination by October 12, and Manitoba has launched a new vaccination Proof of vaccination mobile app For fully vaccinated residents.
But Alberta has said repeatedly that it will Failure to bring vaccine passports Prime Minister Jason Kenney has completely rejected the idea of mandatory vaccinations Amendment to the provincial public health law To remove a 100-year-old authority that allows the government to force people to be vaccinated.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford too Strongly refused the possibility of obtaining passports for a vaccine Last month, even for health care workers, saying the county “will not have a divided community.”
The federal government announced its position on the Friday before Friday Election calldeclaring it Soon to require all public servants to be vaccinated, as well as passengers on commercial airliners, cruise ships, and interprovincial trains in Canada.
But while Ottawa has taken a hard line on vaccine mandates and committed to establishing Proof of vaccination documents for international travel By early fall, it had stopped implementing a domestic vaccine passport system across Canada.
Dr David Naylor, who led the federal investigation into Canada’s response to the SARS epidemic in 2003 and now co-chairs the federal government against COVID-19, said: “Unfortunately, the regional and regional landscape is likely to remain a patchwork for ideological reasons as a war unit.
“And I don’t think the federal government can force vaccine certifications on local jurisdictions.”
Naylor says he hopes the federal government will work with provinces and territories to adapt the newly announced vaccine document for international travel into a national vaccine passport for use across all provinces and territories in the future.
“It is possible that the provinces will reject this idea,” he said. “But in a logical world, we would have a unified Canadian document for domestic and international use.”
Dr. Isaac Bogosh, an infectious disease physician and member of the Ontario COVID-19 vaccine task force, says it has become clear that Canada will not take a national approach to vaccine certification because the federal government does not have the authority to direct provinces and territories on board.
“We’re going to have vastly different strategies, with Alberta at one end of the spectrum, and Quebec at the other end of the spectrum — and possibly many provinces in between,” he said.
“But from a political point of view, the provinces are clearly choosing their own adventure.”
Forcing vaccinations to ‘not be everything and end everything’
The question remains about how effective vaccine mandates will be in controlling the spread of COVID-19 among the unvaccinated during the fourth wave, and whether testing is sufficient to keep community transmission low.
“You can certainly see how mixing vaccinated and unvaccinated people in high-risk environments can pass into unvaccinated groups – especially those at high risk,” said Dr. Zain Chagla, MD, an infectious disease physician at St. Professor at McMaster University.
“It makes sense if you get to a certain situation in the community, where the odds of someone entering that place with COVID-19 start to rise day by day, that a cascade effect might start.”
A concern says Quebec’s approach to imposing vaccinations only on non-essential services prevents those who have not been vaccinated from being ostracized — because of choice, eligibility or access — while encouraging more people to get vaccinated so they can participate in more activities.
He doesn’t think vaccine passports are to “be all and do it all” in an effort to vaccinate people. “But it’s certainly an end effect to get people to participate and … get them to reduce the risk even more in the future,” he said.
“Vaccines validation is going to be really important, especially as we’re struggling with this for the next few months – maybe the next six months – where we’re going to see a little bit of an upset with more transmission.”
Dr. Lisa Barrett, an infectious disease physician and immunologist at Dalhousie University in Halifax, says that while she is fully in favor of vaccine passports, there are other options to keep Canadians safe in high-risk places for COVID-19 transmission.
“We want to protect public places and the people who attend them by not having people infected. You can do that with a dual vaccine – or by showing a negative test for the minority who haven’t been vaccinated for various reasons,” she said.
“Obviously it’s best to get vaccinated on a personal level, but he does reserve some options while people get there.”
Barrett says that while she prefers vaccination to control levels of COVID-19, she hates the idea of exclusion until all other options have been exhausted; She points to the vast supply of rapid antigen tests in Canada to help fill the gap.
Bogoch agrees that while vaccine mandates are an effective strategy to increase our vaccination levels across the country, unvaccinated Canadians are a diverse population with many different reasons for forgoing a single injection — and this needs to be approached with caution.
“Some people still have questions and issues and concerns remaining that have not been addressed,” he said. “Obviously we have to take these questions and issues and concerns seriously, and deal with that in an empathetic way.”
“I think it’s also fair to say that some people no matter what we say – regardless of science and reason and logic – some people will never be vaccinated.”
A ‘window of opportunity’ to prevent a brutal fourth wave
Canada has emerged as one of the most vaccinated countries in the world, with more than 60 percent of the Canadian population fully vaccinated after a relatively slow start-up.
But with 40 percent of the population less protected from COVID-19, with just one shot or none at all, there are still millions of Canadians vulnerable to infection — especially in the face of more contagious and possibly deadlier delta variable.
“Given the fact that we’re about to unlock everything, it seems likely that those 40 percent will get infected at some point, which means we’re going to have a lot of pressure on our community,” Deonandan said.
“There is a window of opportunity to prevent a lot of societal suffering, and frankly, it should be the selling point for businesses – do you want to stay open? Do you want your employees to have jobs? That’s what we do to make sure that happens, because we see a storm coming.”