Some argue that since Omicron is less severe than previous variants and all Canadians will likely be infected eventually, why not “let it rip” and be done with it? But there are three fundamental problems with this approach.
Many parents are hesitant to vaccinate their children. But choosing not to get a vaccine is not a risk-free choice, but rather a choice to take another, more serious risk. In fact, it could be one of the most important health decisions parents will make.
Health advocates are raising alarm that infants in Nunavut, and especially Inuit infants, face grave risks as a potent respiratory virus – deadlier than COVID-19 and influenza – re-emerges after a one-year hiatus. Health officials now fear serious outbreaks in Canada’s North.
Vaccines must be mandatory in all health-care settings in order to protect patients, protect health-care workers and prevent future health-care worker shortages. Furthermore, hospitals are temples of science, and we need to make decisions based on science – such as mandating vaccination.
Vaccine mandates will lead good health-care workers to be fired, thereby exacerbating systemic inequities – and all for a rationale that appeals to patient safety but which does not always stand up to scrutiny. We also can't allow vaccine mandates to send the message that we no longer need to use multiple complementary infection-control measures.
Vaccinations should be mandatory for all health-care workers because they will keep vulnerable patients safe. We know this from our experience successfully mandating vaccination among staff in long-term care. Furthermore, vaccine mandates should not be blamed for staff shortages in the health-care system.
Mandating COVID-19 vaccines amounts to a passive and insensitive infection-control measure that does not address the real drivers of COVID-19 infection. Moreover, it deviates from the core principles of public health, eroding trust between public health and those it serves.
Some virologists hypothesize that Omicron and other variants of concern emerged after mutating within an immunosuppressed person. The solution, they say, is to get vaccines to under-vaccinated countries.
Physician-epidemiologist Stefan Baral opposes vaccine certificates on the grounds that they further sideline marginalized groups and strain the relationship between public health and the public it serves.
During the pandemic, Vaccine Hunters Canada became a household name because the group worked around the clock to help Canadians get vaccinated. We're profiling the group as a Pillars of the Pandemic honouree.
Lawrence Loh, Peel Region’s medical officer of health, worked tirelessly to promote public health in one of Ontario's worst-hit COVID-19 hotspots. We're profiling him as a Pillars of the Pandemic honouree.
Healthy Debate Editor-in-Chief Seema Marwaha talks about how booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccines could help protect the immunocompromised – especially during the fourth wave – and, perhaps later on, the general public.
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