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  • Marie Snyder

Will You Try to Mandate Vaccinations?

Updated: Sep 13, 2022

A. Vaccination mandates are under the jurisdiction of provincial public health and the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC). Any concerns with vaccination policy can be raised with your MPP. Although some trustees may have advocated for vaccines, they had no effect. It's entirely in the Ministry's hands. I don't expect trustees to be able to override public health initiatives this year either - or I'll be very surprised if they do.

Personally, though, I feel strongly about bodily autonomy, but with vaccinations that require herd immunity (polio, measles, rubella, etc.), the health of our society requires that we vaccinate as many people as possible. However, there are always exceptions granted to individuals who are unable to vaccinate or opposed to vaccinations. If this vaccine is mandated again, typically parents would be able to get paperwork from their school to opt out. We need a critical mass to be vaccinated, but not necessarily 100%. When it comes to Covid vaccines, they don't do much to reduce transmission (which is why masks are so important), but the main benefit of this vaccine is to significantly reduce the chance of the virus turning into a severe illness, which does affect society by keeping people out of our overburdened hospitals to make room for other illnesses and accidents. In this graph of Ontario hospitalizations, it's clear that our valleys in March and June of this year aren't as low as our peaks from Sept-Nov last year, and won't be if we continue to do nothing.

There's a far lower percentage of vaccinated people hospitalized for Covid than unvaccinated (up to 17 times higher risk of hospitalization in unvaccinated). Some hospitals have reported as many as 45% of patients with Covid as vaccinated, but the image below might help us understand the relative risk based on vaccination status:

Although SARS CoV-2, specifically, has only been with us a few years, the type of vaccine has been around much longer, and long-term trials show minimal risks. When I look at issues like this, I weigh the personal risks against benefits to society. It benefits our community if people can get vaccinated and get boosters as necessary (looks like about every six months for this one), so I would hope that we can get most people vaccinated voluntarily. I'd advocate for much better messaging across the board on the risks of the vaccine, which are minuscule, compared to the risk of long term effects of Covid, which are devastating. We've been able to dramatically reduce teen pregnancy and STIs through excellent education campaigns to make the risks known and the solutions widely available without any type of mandates. I think that could work here too, except it has to be a group effort from the Premier, Public Health, the media, and the schools.

That being said, if we can't possibly convince enough people that a vaccine will help them stay out of the hospital, then a mandate is a last resort with an opt out option similar to other vaccination protocols in our schools.

ETA: Vaccine mandates were just ruled as legal and enforceable by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

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