Since when does the government have the right to make my medical decisions for me? That is the question nagging at me as I ponder the state of things with COVID-19. There are reports of people being fired from their jobs for coming to work unvaccinated. Students at public universities are being told that they cannot set foot on campus without first getting their two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. And now, most recently, a mandate dictates that all federal government employees must be vaccinated, even if they work from home. This last mandate will soon extend to all federally regulated industries. Additionally, the province’s health care and education workers will now face similar mandates.
Before expressing my strong opinion that vaccine mandates are wrong, let me point out that I am fully vaccinated against COVID-19. I am not an anti-vaxxer and, despite the short interval between the development of the various COVID-19 vaccines and their approval for use, I got my COVID-19 vaccines willingly, because I trust vaccine science. Why then, would I not want other people to be forced to get their vaccine and potentially end the pandemic more quickly?
The answer is choice, especially choice when it comes to my own medical procedures, and who I tell about those medical procedures. Our legal “freedoms”, of course, only refer to freedom from prosecution. My charter rights might be violated if I was imprisoned for refusing to get vaccinated, but not if my employment is terminated for the same. Getting the vaccine is, therefore, a choice, in the sense that no one is being dragged out of their homes in handcuffs to be driven to the nearest vaccination clinic.
However, the “choice” being given to those who are governed by the mandates is the choice between getting a free, virtually painless needle in a process that takes about 20 minutes, or losing a career, no matter one’s experience, devotion, or tenure, potentially without prospects to get a new one without first getting the aforementioned needle. This is not much of a choice at all. Such a choice would be a joke of a question in the children’s game “Would You Rather?” It is like asking someone if they would rather be homeless, or get a light flick on the forehead. But downplay it as we might, that flick in the forehead – or rather, that needle in the arm – is a medical decision.
Something odd to me is that I never had to sign a consent form for either of my COVID-19 shots. A consent form is something I remember being part of the process for regular flu shots in the past. Perhaps even worse is that no one at either clinic went over potential side effects with me. It is like all commonsense protocols have suddenly vanished.
Some readers may be wondering what the big deal is in the first place. Why not just shut up and get the needle? Why make a fuss on principle? My answer is that it is not just on principle. It is the fact that the COVID-19 vaccines – while well-researched and backed by science – are still so new that some of their side effects and potential complications are being discovered, not in clinical trials, but in members of the general public after receiving the shot. There are many reports of young men experiencing serious heart problems after getting the needle. At the time I got my first shot, this was not well-known, and there was, therefore, an unknown risk to my health. What other potential side effects may develop over time? So far, everyone who got the COVID-19 vaccine did so willingly. What happens when a new side effect is discovered in someone who was compelled to get vaccinated?
Privacy is a whole other issue. Not only will everyone be required to share their vaccination status, but those who cannot take vaccines due to allergies or preexisting health conditions may be required to share other medical information with their employers to be exempted. The longer the pandemic soldiers on, the thinner the line becomes between “choice” and “requirement”, and between “confidential” and “public”.
With highly polarizing vaccine debates in full swing, some people are asking if the willfully unvaccinated should be held accountable if they infect someone with COVID-19. Barring the obvious legal nightmare of proving that one person’s choice is directly linked to another person’s infection, one must turn this around and ask a simple question: Should the unwillingly vaccinated be able to sue when they become the unwilling test subject who discovers a new side effect?
We have now been through 17 months of the government being in our social lives and in our homes. It is time to tell them to stay the heck out of our bodies.