By Medicine Hat News Opinion on July 15, 2021.
On Monday, Premier Jason Kenney reiterated that Alberta will not be mandating vaccine passports in any form. This means the government will not force individuals to provide proof of vaccination in order to access services and events within the province’s borders.
This is a win for civil liberties in a time where they have been severely curbed over the past year and a half. In a liberal democracy like Canada, we should be free to make our own medical decisions without fear that our civil liberties hinge on that decision.
The freedom to enjoy all that this great province has to offer should not be dangled like a carrot on a stick where it can only be enjoyed if we do what the government wants by getting a vaccine.
Furthermore, nobody should need a “good” reason to not get the vaccine. Whether an individual has underlying health issues, religious concerns or simply doesn’t like needles, they are all equally valid reasons to not get the shot. With that being said, everyone should be encouraged to receive vaccines, but in doing so we must not create a two-tiered society where those who refuse are marginalized.
Beyond the ideological concerns regarding domestic vaccine passports, they appear largely unnecessary. At the time of this writing nearly three quarters of eligible Albertans have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and well over half have been fully vaccinated. Given these figures, I think it reasonable to suggest that the number of fully vaccinated Albertans could rise to somewhere around the 80-85% range by the end of the summer before a possible fourth wave arrives.
These vaccines are highly effective, although not 100% they significantly reduce the risks of getting seriously ill from the virus. With this in mind, continued large scale fear of COVID-19 seems largely unfounded. If the vast majority of the population is vaccinated, combined with many unvaccinated people who have already been infected and therefore have built some level of resistance, there is reason to expect that the worst of the pandemic is well behind us.
It’s very possible that COVID-19 won’t fully disappear, it may be something we have to deal with for years to come. But at some point we have to learn to live with it without restricting freedom.
We as a society are in the midst of an important crossroads between public health and civil liberty. The past year and half of lockdowns have heavily favoured the public health side. There is a strong argument to be made that this was the right decision at the time but as hospitalizations drop and vaccinations rise, the balance must shift back towards civil liberties and a return to normalcy. Rejecting domestic vaccine passports is a way this can be accomplished.
Cash Moore is a political science student at the University of Alberta from Medicine Hat. Feedback for his columns can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org