Let's Talk About Vaccines

Updated: May 3

After all the heartache and adversity Canadians have faced since the COVID-19 pandemic began, there is finally a light at the end of the tunnel. The approval of several vaccines brings hope that we may soon see the end of the pandemic. In this column, I want to share some observations about the rollout of vaccines and address three common questions that folks often ask.


First: Vaccines are an important tool in the fight against COVID-19, but they are not a silver bullet. One of the key metrics Public Health uses in its response to COVID-19 is the R number. This is the number of people who catch COVID from a single infected source. An R number of less than one results in fewer infections and over time as people recover, whereas an R number greater than one results in more infections. Although a vaccine does not eliminate the virus or its transmission, it can lower the R number significantly. This then decreases the degree of other measures used to slow the spread -- measures which have had a significantly greater social and economic impact on Canadians.


Second: The safety of vaccines is very important and this needs to be discussed. There is a risk of side effects any time you get a shot, as is the case with any medical treatment from over-the-counter painkillers to complex treatment for rare diseases. The scientific consensus is, and history shows, that vaccines are safe and effective. I use the phrase “scientific consensus” because it is important. It does not mean there is full or universal agreement on the subject, but rather there is general agreement among those qualified to make a determination based on the evidence. Also, it is troubling how much misinformation there is about vaccines, and the COVID-19 vaccine, in particular, that circulates online. It is important to get your information from qualified sources.


Third: I want to be very clear that I do not support mandatory vaccines, either directly or indirectly. Receiving the vaccine is something each person needs to evaluate and decide for themselves, and I am thankful that both the provincial government and the federal government have committed to allowing this. That said, I personally plan to receive the shot when available and encourage those who can to also consider getting it.


While the approval of vaccines is welcome news, there is a troubling level of mismanagement in the national procurement strategy by the Trudeau Liberal Government. While the Prime Minister blames provinces, the reality is that many provinces are vaccinating at a rate that will exhaust currently procured supplies in the coming days or weeks. Instead of planning for this over the last number of months, the Liberals put politics before the best interests of Canadians.


To quantify Canada’s substandard vaccine procurement, you can look at inoculation rates in other populations. For example, Israel leads the world with close to a 2% inoculation rate, while the rates in United States and the United Kingdom are near 0.2%. Canada’s rate is only around 0.05%.


The Liberals’ mismanagement means the pandemic response will be lengthened, hurting the health of Canadians and Canadian businesses. This also forces provincial governments to make difficult decisions related to pandemic restrictions. Conservatives will continue to demand answers and accountability on this and all measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Finally, I would like to express my gratitude to all front-line workers, health professionals, and essential service providers for all the work and sacrifices made during the pandemic. Thank you.


If you have any questions or concerns regarding this column you are encouraged to write Damien at 4945-50th Street, Camrose, Alberta, T4V 1P9, call 780-608-4600, text 403.575-5625, or e-mail damien.kurek@parl.gc.ca. You can also stay up to date with what Damien is up to by following him on social media @dckurek.


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