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VACCINATE NOW! It’s the responsibility we owe each other

We’ve all had our views — often divergent — on many of the tactics used in combatting this pandemic. There are legitimate issues still to be resolved not the least of which are questions of civil rights and the rule of law. How far can a government be allowed to act in an emergency? How little transparency can be tolerated in a democracy? How can deadly decisions on limiting health care and irreparable orders destroying people’s livelihoods be permitted without public consult.

There will come a time for a broad inquiry into myriad government measures during this crisis. But today we have another responsibility. One that is not between governed and governors.

Vaccinate now! That is the responsibility we have to each other. That responsibility is to realize that we are in the end game of this thing, and we have the tools to make it. That responsibility is not to blow it.

We now have concrete evidence from every country that vaccinations dramatically reduce the severity of symptoms. And dramatically reduce the pressure on hospitals. Even Omicron’s milder effects — though more rapid spread — can be attributed in great measure to the vaccines. We may have record positive test numbers for Covid due to Omicron, but hospitalizations and ICU admittances are nowhere near the proportional rates to positives we saw last year. That is due to the vaccines!

In Quebec, our double-vaxxed vaccination rate is in the high 80s. Though most of those in hospital are doubly vaccinated, the percentage of non-vaccinated Quebecers in hospitals is twice that of the non-vaccinated in the general population. Those who are not at least doubly-vaxxed are taking up an inordinately higher number of beds and causing undue pressure on the health system. They have a responsibility to get vaccinated now as long as they have no conditions precluding vaccinations. And those who are doubly-vaxxed should get their boosters as quickly as possible.

There is ample evidence from many nations — particularly Britain and Israel — that vaccinations and boosters not only control symptoms and reduce hospitalizations, but they also contribute to curtailing the rapidity of Omicron’s spread. And they do so in a matter of weeks plateauing the positive numbers and seeing drops off the peaks in a matter of days by as much as 20%.

We have a social contract we must honour to each other . If we ever want to get out of this, vaccination is the way. And you don’t have to do it for strictly altruistic reasons. Do it for yourselves. Do it so you can use planes and trains, go to your favourite restaurants and entertainment spots, enjoy the sporting events you miss and shop at the stores you like. They won’t come back without your help. Just as you have to go through security screenings in many places, very soon your Vaxipass will be demanded everywhere.

We know some of you may have modestly uncomfortable reactions to vaccines for a few days. But we are all soldiers in this fight, and it is a small price to pay for winning it. So let’s put aside the conspiracy theories and the fears for a couple of weeks. Let’s stop the senseless arguments and debates, the never-ending demonizations and detractions. Let’s just do what is necessary as a community to end this thing.

And one more thing. Attitude. Practice being a good neighbour. If somebody needs a lift to a vaccination centre and you can help, do it. Take them. If you’re going to get a vaccination, don’t argue with the volunteers and nurses about which one. You’re not shopping for designer shoes. You have a lot more chances of getting nasty effects from Covid than from any vaccine.

Whether you can see it or not, we’re in the end game. We’re past the seventh-inning stretch. Let’s not blow it. Most of all, remember you’re saving lives and relieving suffering. Maybe your own.