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Editorial: Necessary, but mandatory?

Peter Shokeir | editor@fitzhugh.ca

During the early days of the pandemic, officials were urging the public to wait for the vaccine, because once it came, a return to normalcy would soon follow.

Indeed, the vaccine has significantly improved the situation, with the lower death rates in continuing care centres more than enough evidence of this.

And yet, the pandemic continues, and new regulations are coming down the pipe right now, while old ones continue to linger.

Turns out the vaccine isn’t a magic wand that will turn time back to 2019.

Vaccines are effective, no doubt, but why is the pandemic continuing then?

For one (and yes, I’m not a doctor), vaccinated people can still get sick and can spread the virus, but their symptoms are not as severe.

There’s also the fact that a significant minority of the population refuses to get vaccinated for reasons ranging from religious beliefs to conspiracy theories.

Health officials have repeatedly stated that the unvaccinated make up a disproportionate number of hospitalizations from COVID.

This need to vaccinate the public has resulted in policies that would have been shocking only a few years ago.

Vaccine passports for non-essential services, restrictions on international travel and the ludicrous idea of financial incentives have been tried.

Now Quebec wants to impose a health tax on residents who aren’t vaccinated, and the idea of mandatory vaccination has once again been bandied about.

Trust and education have failed, so authority must now be invoked.

Many will say these policies aren’t a big deal.

Others might admit they’re a bit extreme but that desperate times call for desperate measures and this wouldn’t be necessary if anti-vaxxers hadn’t been dragging the rest of us down to begin with.

At the very least though, it should give us all a pause that the only way we can get vast swaths of the population to behave decently is through such means.

This isn’t necessarily an argument against any particular policy.

Rather, this is an argument for wariness, an argument for not being completely comfortable with the new norm.

As soon as it is safe to do so, water fountains should be a thing again.

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