For months on end, people from all over the world have had to make drastic changes to their lifestyles due to the coronavirus pandemic. We have all been patiently awaiting the day that we can take our masks off, stand closer than six feet away from our loved ones and return to a sense of normalcy, whatever that means for each person. Health Canada’s approval of a Covid-19 vaccine has brought us one step closer to that day.
The Canadian government has left the decision of the order of the administration of the vaccine up to provincial governments. The federal government has left decisions about vaccine administration to provincial governments. This announcement has left me with many questions. How does the government decide who “deserves” the vaccine first? Will the vaccine be mandated? How long until we achieve herd immunity? Health care workers seem like the obvious choice to be vaccinated first, after all, they have put their own lives at risk in order to save others. I think the next group of people to be vaccinated should be elderly people and immunocompromised people. Based on research so far, they are generally affected by Covid-19 in the most severe way and thus should get priority in being vaccinated. After those two groups have been vaccinated, it should be open to the rest of the population.
The question about whether or not the vaccine will be mandatory intrigues me. From one side, it would make sense for the government to make the vaccine required for the entire population; however,that seems highly unlikely since a big concern among Canadians is the rapidity of the development of this vaccine. Most vaccines take years to develop and distribute which explains the fears around this particular vaccine. Experts explain that the speed at which this vaccine has been developed was not a matter of taking shortcuts, but rather of multitasking. Due to the effect this pandemic has had on the whole world, researchers have collaborated with other professionals and have used the fruits of earlier research to develop it. I doubt it will be mandatory, that being said, there is a possibility that it will be hard to live without. There is a good chance that in order to travel, go to school or go to restaurants, proof of vaccination will be required.
That in itself raises a new question: will there be an immunity passport? Will we have a card that we carry around with us to prove that we have been vaccinated? This comes with many ethical implications and I understand the two different sides of the argument. On one hand, it is important that others know if you are safe to be around without masks and social distancing. On the other hand, it makes sense that people see this as a violation of their privacy. At the moment, Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliot has indicated that they intend to issue some sort of proof of vaccination, but it is still up to debate. The executive director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association says that an immunity passport, in whatever form “discriminates” and “violates privacy and dignity” and .”violates Canadians' mobility rights."
Although these are important things that must be considered by the government, the news of the approval of the Covid-19 vaccine is definitely a step in the right direction to returning to a new normal post pandemic.