Vaccination as an Act of Service
Vaccine hesitancy is understandable if you view the benefits of vaccine as purely individual. But vaccination isn’t just an individual act
By Wayne Prins, Executive Director
Not since World War Two has the entire world confronted such universal fear, disruption, and hardship as we are experiencing now due to COVID-19. There is not a corner of this planet that has not been severely impacted by the widespread social and economic misery inflicted by the virus.
And, while not nearly to the extent of the world wars, COVID-19 continues to leave millions of sick and dead in its wake. We remain in the midst of an extreme universal trauma of historic proportion.
Every fall we reserve a special day to remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country and fellow citizens. Remembrance Day is when Canadians celebrate the bravery and selflessness of those who willingly went into harm’s way to protect our freedoms and way of life, and paid the ultimate price for doing so.
We hold these men and women up as heroes, and rightfully so.
We also honour the courage and service of all those who returned home, because they, too, set aside their own self-interests in pursuit of a greater goal. Those who serve in our armed forces have and continue to exemplify the very best traits of human character and service.
In our current battle against COVID-19, many of the freedoms that our celebrated heroes risked and gave their lives to protect have been temporarily taken from us. The freedom of mobility, assembly, communal worship, and commerce to name a few.
In many ways, we have lost sight of how extraordinary it is that we cannot even get together with our loved ones in the comfort of our homes. When a loved one dies, we are not even supposed to offer a comforting hug to those who are mourning.
The restrictions we are currently living with are unimaginable under any other circumstance.
Anticipating victory was the ultimate source of hope during previous global conflicts. Similarly, vaccination against COVID-19 gives us reason for hope.
COVID-19’s disastrous impacts can be minimized, and maybe even eliminated. Vaccination is the most likely path to return us to normal life and freedoms. It is an unbelievable human achievement that we have numerous vaccines being produced at a massive scale that will enable the majority of people around the world to be vaccinated in a relatively short period of time.
In some countries, where vaccines programs are already well advanced, large numbers of citizens are opting out because of “vaccine hesitancy.” Where this is true, the refusal to accept readily available vaccines by those who have no reasonable basis to do so has become the key limiting factor in preventing a full return to normal life.
In the coming months, this may also become true in Canada.
Vaccine hesitancy is understandable if you view the benefits of vaccine as purely individual. But vaccination isn’t just an individual act.
I can imagine that if, in 1940, a young person measured the risk of going to fight in Europe against their own individual interests of staying in Canada, they might well have hid and avoided the assignment. They might have called it “service hesitancy.”
But those who chose to serve knew that their service was in pursuit of a much greater cause than their own self-interest. And so off they went into the face of danger and possible death.
How much less is the risk of vaccination in the context of our pursuit of saved lives and renewed freedoms?
CLAC is opposed to mandatory vaccination. When asked, we’ve been clear that we view any suggestion of mandatory or compelled vaccination to be a clear violation of prevailing law in Canada.
Notwithstanding the argument presented above, we feel strongly that vaccination should be a personal choice. We understand some people have legitimate reasons for choosing not to take a vaccine.
That said, our passionate support for and promotion of taking vaccines stems from our direct experience with the incredible and devastating hardships experienced by members—particularly those working in long term care, as well as the residents they care for—and others at the hands of this virus.
When it’s your turn to roll up your sleeve, we simply encourage you to receive that vaccine not just as your personal protection against the virus, but also as your act of service to your loved ones, to your community, to your colleagues, and to your country.