BY: ANDREW MAHON
In a recent interview, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave a belaboured endorsement of mass vaccination.
After sharing his “amazing” vaccine experience, he said: “we don’t get through this unless the vast majority of the population gets that first shot….And the way to do that is to make sure everyone, even that crusty old uncle who resists, or that friend who’s skeptical — encourage them, convince them, tell them that they need to get vaccinated….making sure that everyone gets the vaccination is the way to get through it…everyone, even the people who are hesitant, need to get that.”
Every political leader in Canada is taking a similar line, and the incentivization measures are getting silly.
Probably the most embarrassing pitch came from Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. Standing in an empty vaccination centre, he said: “We have a bit of a problem…no one is here. Because we’re not getting enough demand right now. And that’s why Alberta today is announcing that we are launching the Open for Summer Vaccine Lottery, with three one million dollar prizes….We need to just nudge those who haven’t gotten around to getting their vaccines yet.”
But significant opposition to vaccination persists, and million-dollar prizes or not, there will continue to be people who decline, for a multitude of reasons. It is disingenuous to smear them all with the epithet “anti-vaxxer”.
There are those who are opposed to all vaccinations on principle; there are also those who are not opposed to vaccination per se, but oppose these particular vaccines because they’re experimental, or because they’ve been rushed, without undergoing proper safety trials; there are those who support these vaccines, but have concluded, based on their own risk assessments, that they are better off without one; there are those who have already recovered from COVID and prefer to rely on their own immune systems; there is also opposition that appears to be linked to culture, religion, or ethnicity (prompting other desperate measures, such as vaccine centres for “those who identify as Black”) and there are many other nuanced and considered positions beyond these.
Most jurisdictions are pinning their reopening plans to vaccination rates, which are generally approaching two-thirds to three-quarters of their populations. But the governments must know that they cannot get much higher than that without making vaccination compulsory. There will remain a sizable group of stubborn “vaccine-hesitant” people, who just won’t be persuaded.
But maybe all the coercive rhetoric and bribery isn’t actually to persuade the remaining hesitant people at all.
When do politicians ever put anything above their own political interests? Governments want to claim credit for solutions more than they want to solve problems. If they insist vaccines are the solution, they want to be seen to push that solution more than they want to implement it.
Our governments must suspect that SARS-CoV-2 infections are going to rise again in the autumn, no matter what they do.
The vaccines appear to be effective in reducing symptoms and duration of illness, but they do not prevent infection. And as the now endemic virus continues to mutate, the vaccines will begin to lose their efficacy, and the number of infections will rise as the weather turns cold. Our governments know that someone — but preferably not them — will be blamed for that.
These current campaigns may well be nothing but theatre, so that when numbers do start to go up and restrictions are reintroduced, our governments can say they did everything short of enforcing compulsory vaccination.
But if they escape blame in this way, where will the blame fall?
It’s not so much that they’ll intentionally make a scapegoat of the unvaccinated — it’s more likely that they’re just trying to paper over their own errors — but the upshot will be the same. For it to work, not only do political leaders need to be seen to pull out all the stops in pushing the vaccines, but the “vaccine-hesitant” also need to continue to refuse. Ironically, the governments need their exhortations to fail, and it’s possible that the only reason they’re pushing so hard is that they know they will.
It’s increasingly clear from the evidence that lockdowns have been largely useless.
It’s also clear from the randomized controlled trials that masks make no statistically significant difference in viral spread in a populace. Despite these non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs), infections have continued to rise and fall based on the mysterious behaviour of a virus that doesn’t care about government NPIs.
If everyone were to be vaccinated, and numbers still continued to rise, our politicians would have nowhere left to hide.
But vaccination rates won’t get near 100% – and pushing for a solution that requires full cooperation but can’t achieve it is a perfect strategy for the evasion of blame. If numbers rise, they can point to the unvaccinated; if numbers don’t rise, they can take credit for the vaccine rollout. And so the growing hostility for any continuing restrictions or further COVID-related deaths will be directed at the unvaccinated, instead of the government.
A recent CBC article bore the subtitle: “Unvaccinated Canadians are a ‘tinderbox’ that threatens Canada more than variants, experts say”. The thinking is that vaccines are a collective prophylactic remedy, like fluoride in the water supply, rather than an individual preventative medicine. But unlike fluoride, which can be avoided by drinking bottled water, for instance, this remedy requires individual consent (or legal compulsion) for an injection that protects against an illness most people neither suffer from nor are in any danger of dying from.
As the incentivization and coercion continue to ride roughshod over that once-important notion of informed consent, we are accelerating towards a caste system, in which the vaccinated will feel morally justified in discriminating against the unvaccinated. We can expect a kind of righteous persecution and segregation on a scale unknown in Canada.
Most of this could have been avoided had our governments followed their pandemic response plans — instead of copying China’s lockdown strategy — and shielded the vulnerable where possible, leaving the rest of us to achieve population immunity naturally.
But those plans were negligently cast aside, and subsequent layers of error, falsehood, and censorship have brought about the current predicament.
If the coronavirus continues to spread, the likely scenario that will unfold is that those who withhold their consent to vaccination will become a persecuted minority merely for exercising their right to bodily autonomy, while politicians escape blame for the ongoing mishandling of their pandemic response.
But on a more positive note, there will be at least three new vaccinated millionaires.
Andrew Mahon is a writer based in London, England. He has written for the Post Millennial, the Daily Wire, the Conservative Woman, the Spectator and others.