As Thanksgiving approaches, we are mindful, as Canadians and New Brunswickers we have so much to be thankful for. We are known as the picture province, so majestically shown each year with the changing of the leaves. More and more people are now discovering the best kept secret in the world-that New Brunswick is great place to live. We have an idyllic life style with freedoms and rights galore.
New Brunswickers, as well as all Canadians, are free to practice any religion or no religion at all. We have the right to vote in elections. We have the right to enter, remain in or leave the country. Everyone regardless of race, nationality or ethnic origin, color, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability is equal before the law.
However, with rights come responsibilities. It is irresponsible to say and do things merely because you have the right to say and do them, particularly when you completely disregard the harm it causes. The minute one’s freedoms trample on the liberty or the health of another, then conflict ensues and must be resolved.
A case of point is the Covid-19 and the conflict between those who are vaccinated and those who are not. I am troubled by all of this. To be sure I was double vaccinated as soon as possible. When reaching my decision, l deferred to the science. As well, I reviewed the history of vaccines down through the decades.
One of the worst viruses was the Spanish Flu in the early 20th century. It was estimated that 1,924,900 people contracted the virus with 50,000 Canadians deaths and 500,000-700,000 Americans deaths. World-wide 20 million people died. However, science created a vaccine to kill the virus and the Spanish flu was eradicated. Since that time, think of the thousands of vaccines for prevention of illnesses such as polio, tuberculosis, diphtheria, tetanus, or the common cold and flu; to name a few.
Covid-19 is dangerous for its air borne and is highly contagious. It will remain as long as it finds a host. Hosts are people who are not vaccinated. And moreover, we are now faced with the Delta variant which can be even more difficult to contain.
So, are we back to rights? I have friends who are not vaccinated. For many, they do not want to be perceived as irrational anti-vaxxers. They are genuinely concerned over the possible side effects given the limited amount of research and testing of the vaccines and this is the main reason for their hesitancy. Some have a personal policy of no vaccines. Others say this is not a decision to be made lightly, or based on fear, or ridiculous information dug up from the internet. Some of these reasons appear to be rooted in a lack of trust in those making decisions based on limited time and data. As well they site concerns over the profit-driven interests of pharmaceutical companies manufacturing the shots. Others have weakened immune systems and are afraid. And finally there are evangelists, with divine wisdom, who preach that taking a vaccine is a sin and not taking it is a test of faith.
Currently there are an estimated 18% of Canadians who are not vaccinated. Hopefully, as time goes by the percentage will decrease. Already, it is shown that less than 1% of those who are fully vaccinated get seriously ill from Covid-19.
What about the other side of the coin? Some of those who have been fully vaccinated say they rolled the dice and took a chance. Risks can be rewarding or sometimes not—just ask a golfer. More and more resentment is developing in vaccinated people who are now restricted in relation to travel, go to restaurants, meet in large groups or drive south. Simply the hassle of remembering masks, Identification cards, and proof of vaccines is an annoyance.
20/20 hindsight is perfect vision. We see commentators who are now criticizing the Higgs government for pulling the trigger in July and announcing the province will go green. Premier Higgs said he made that decision based on information and recommendations from professionals in the department of Health. And moreover I suspect he was deeply concerned with so many other variables, like rebooting the economy and getting people back to work. As the old saying goes, “don’t we all deserve the right to be wrong now and then?”
We are first and foremost Canadians. We are said by some to be the most polite and considerate people in the world-albeit boring. Suggesting that we should mandate vaccines is not our style. It is unfortunate that government must write rules and regulations to protect society as a whole. We believe that enough time has lapsed and encourage all New Brunswickers to be vaccinated, for it is the right thing to do. In the fullness of time we will hopefully benefit from this experience and be better prepared for other nasty viruses that will surely come our way in the future.
We shall overcome, for we are resilient people. There are some exciting things happening in New Brunswick. Our people are the most valuable resource, and we have a lot to be thankful for. I trust you agree.
Daryl K. Branscombe, President Coalition of Concerned Citizens.