A needle is a simple thing

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If you didn’t get a sticker, did it really happen? nick Fewings via unsplash

The entitlement of those who can get a vaccine but won’t is disgustingly outstanding

Earlier this year, I remember writing about how the Saskatchewan government has done all the right things to combat the pandemic. The only problem is that it has always been about six weeks behind on each solution. A mask mandate was put in place towards the end of summer in 2020, about six weeks too late compared to when it would have actually helped. A drive for increased vaccination rates began in early spring, again about six weeks after it would have really meant something. In late April, we went into a stricter lockdown. While it is true that the lockdown helped and the number of new cases started to look more manageable, the government then went ahead and decided to scrap all public health measures and essentially declared they were done caring about the pandemic.

Like the clichéd supervillain who has the hero in his clutches, at his mercy, and then inexplicably walks away without finishing off the hero, the government of this province has stepped away from the fight against COVID-19 every time it has begun to look like we might have a fighting chance. Most recently, we have brought back the masking requirement in public indoor spaces and have made vaccines mandatory for all those without a valid exemption. As usual, we have probably been the last province in Canada to put these requirements in place, and based on the current situation, it is unclear that the logistics to enforce the vaccine requirement will be ready in time for October 1 when the mandate comes into effect.

It seems to be a matter of common knowledge that the reason behind this constant dilly-dallying by the government is the concern that some Saskatchewan inhabitants are likely to be unhappy with a vaccine passport or renewed public health measures. Sometimes, when I am entertaining ideal thoughts, I like to ponder how far you could take that line of thought. If enough people express outrage about drunk driving laws, should we repeal those laws too? In fact, if this is indeed a free country and I do indeed have rights, how come I have to get a driver’s license before hitting the streets with my car? What is all this about needing a medical degree to start prescribing medication?

We do have rights, and it would in fact be wrong to take away our rights at the slightest pretext. However, as a civilized society, we also have responsibilities towards each other. We have a moral obligation to protect those of us who are the weakest and most vulnerable. As of now, children under the age of 12 are unable to get a vaccine. Among the vaccinated, those of advanced age or with other medical issues are still very vulnerable. This means that those of us who can get vaccinated, should get vaccinated – all the more so if we are in contact with any of the groups mentioned previously. It also means that whenever we are heading out or going to be in contact with others, we are mindful of the health and safety measures we have been told about for the past 18 months. I am aware COVID fatigue is a thing. Unfortunately, the virus does not get tired, and the virus is not going to give us respite just because we want (need) it. We are not out of the woods yet and, if anything, things might take a turn for the worse if we continue on our current trajectory.

Ever since the vaccination requirement has been on the news, at both the federal and provincial levels there has been talk of whether a government has the legal authority to require this. Once again, I find myself baffled; I am confident that all nations have always had a vaccination requirement for a variety of other diseases. In fact, the reason why smallpox is not on the news a whole lot these days is that enough people got the vaccine, and the virus was no longer able to propagate. Governments have always enforced vaccines and other health-related measures, all the more so when it comes to working for the government in some capacity. As for private businesses, a restaurant can require something like patrons must always wear something bright purple or they will be refused service, as it’s a private space. I am genuinely surprised, and more than a little concerned, at how few people seem to understand this concept. I read a social media comment about someone threatening to sue a yoga studio for requiring proof of vaccination, and all I can say is we are far away from a world where yoga lessons are a human right. In fact, I am not sure we would want a world where it is.

All of that before you even get me started on all those people who think the government should not be telling an individual what to do with their own bodies. Unless, you know, the individual is female, the body is pregnant, and what they want to do with it is get an abortion. Then it is perfectly acceptable to legislate every single action of this person with regard to their own body.

This is not the first time I have said this, but it bears repeating: the last 18 months have been hard. We are still not completely in the clear. One of the most disheartening realizations I personally have had in these 18 months is how little regard some people around us have for others. Someday, this whole thing will be over. We will hopefully no longer have to worry about a loved one falling sick and not being able to get an ICU bed for them, something that I personally have experienced. A part of me cannot help but lament how, even in the best of times ahead, we will always know how many of us were unwilling to take a few simple precautions, knowing full well that they could have saved lives. We will always know when faced with their own sense of entitlement and their duty to the community, so many chose entitlement. We will recover from the pandemic, the economic implications, and the social isolation – but I don’t know if we will recover from that realization.

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