In less than one calendar year, Canada managed to get 84% of its population a first dose of the emergency-use Covid-19 vaccine. Another 78% are now fully vaccinated, having been administered both shots.
Among the truly vulnerable, those aged 70 and older, 98.7% are fully vaccinated.
That is a remarkable feat, especially given the bumps along the way in the vaccine roll-out, including a failed Chinese partnership and the primary vaccine offered to Canadians being pulled amid health concerns and adverse side effects (AstraZeneca).
Regardless of these blunders, Canadians stepped up. We rolled up our sleeves, we trusted the experts and more than three-quarters of us did what we were told to do and got fully vaccinated.
We all did it for our own reasons and with our own justifications. Some wanted to protect themselves and their families from getting sick, others did it for the “incentives” and other bribes offered by various governments, others did it because of coercion – they were told they would lose their jobs and livelihoods if they failed to do it, leaving them little choice but to get the vaccine.
For me personally, I got vaccinated because I wanted my life back. I wanted to be able to do normal things like go out for dinner with my husband, travel to see family members who live in other cities and countries, celebrate birthdays and weddings, and basically for things to go back to normal. I didn’t want to wear a mask, and I didn’t want to spend another weekend cooped up inside the house with two little kids who have spent most of their lives in various stages of “lockdown.”
Boy was I naive.
Wrapped up in the push to get Canadians vaccinated was the introduction of a vaccine passport or vaccine mandate schemes. The purpose of these mandates, we were told, was to stop the transmission of Covid.
Unvaccinated Canadians would be barred from entering certain areas of society because, we were told, they may spread the disease. This implied both that unvaccinated people were the transmitters of the virus, and also, that once you were vaccinated, you would no longer spread or contract Covid.
Canadians idly stood by while our politicians turned Canada into a segregated, two-tiered country, where certain untouchable members of society were no longer welcome in the public square.
We allowed politicians to take measures that three years ago we would have all agreed were the things of dystopian science fiction novels or excerpts from the history books of fascist and communist ideologies – policies that are the antithesis of a free society and frankly not possible in a liberal democracy like Canada.
We allowed them to strip liberties, restrict freedoms, amass power, spend endlessly, pit neighbour against neighbour and turn Canada into an unrecognizable, angry, tribal place.
And yet, all of these heavy-handed measures ultimately did not protect us.
Here we are, approaching one year after the roll-out of the vaccines and we are no better protected. We are back to lockdowns, restrictions, school closures, and back to indigent politicians hectoring us to get vaccinated.
The introduction of a new variant, Omicron, has made our ever-evolving, nonsensical and often contradictory public health orders even more absurd. This new variant, which seems to be more mild but more virulent, has thrown the equation upside down. The old orders, which were tenuous, illiberal and ineffective, no longer apply.
Almost everyone I know got Covid over Christmas, regardless of vaccination status.
Omicron doesn’t seem to care if you are vaccinated or not.
Public health experts and drug manufacturers have been quick to acknowledge this. They’re now working on new vaccines for new strains, which suggests that we may soon be asked (or required) to get multiple shots to keep up with the new mutations.
The narrative has evolved over the past six months from “get vaccinated to stop the spread of Covid” to the new narrative “get vaccinated so you’ll get a milder version of Covid, a version that won’t kill you.”
Well, if you’re under 70 and you’re generally healthy, Covid probably wasn’t going to kill you anyway. The Omicron variant itself is mild and much less likely to kill you than the original Wuhan strain or the later Delta strain.
In the face of all of these new facts – that vaccines don’t protect us from Omicron, that Omicron isn’t as deadly as previous strains, that vaccines won’t stop the spread of Covid, and, as we’ve experienced in Ontario, Quebec and a handful of other provinces, that vaccines and vaccine mandates won’t even stop governments from introducing heavy-handed lockdowns – little has changed.
The political messaging remains the same, and the zeal has only intensified.
Trust the science. Get vaccinated. Get a booster shot. Vaccinate your little kids. Vaccines are the only way out of the pandemic. This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. The unvaccinated are a threat to public health and public safety.
The political fervour has intensified despite the science. Science is no longer on their side.
And now, remarkably, we’re now seeing yet another shift in the narrative. We’re now being told the real purpose of the vaccination campaign is to protect our frail and anaemic socialized health care system, even as our lying eyes show us that three-quarters of those in hospital in Ontario with Covid are vaccinated.
The experts hand-wave and justify these inconvenient facts, as our politicians roll out even more punitive measures to turn up the pressure on the unvaccinated.
We will fire you from your job, raise your taxes, ban you from the grocery store, stop you from travelling, tell your family not to invite you to dinner, call you every name in the book, and do everything we can to force you to make a health decision that you don’t want to make for public health reasons that constantly change.
Our public health experts and political leaders have lost the plot. Their orders don’t add up, but they don’t seem to care.
Some public health experts and politicians around the world have reluctantly acknowledged the changing reality and tacitly admitted their strategy has failed. This is why we see the U.K. and other Western nations ending all health restrictions and announcing an end to the pandemic.
If Canada was led by decent, honest people, we would do the same. The longer our leaders hold out – coercing instead of persuading, dividing instead of uniting, pushing a narrative instead of following the latest science and facts – the more we know this is about power, not health or safety.