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The Sticking Point: Mandatory COVID Vaccinations

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Is The Word "Mandatory" That Frightening?

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Immunization Is A Choice - How Much Of One Depends On Many Factors

An uproar has already begun about whether or not the COVID-19 vaccine should be made mandatory.

What people might be thinking right now is that the government is going to hold down all of us individually and stick us with a needle whether we want it to happen or not. However, that would be patently illegal, as according to Vaccine Choice Canada, "Immunization is not mandatory in Canada; it cannot be made mandatory because of the Canadian Constitution." Further to that, "Only three provinces have legislation or regulations under their health-protection acts to require proof of immunization for school entrance. Ontario and New Brunswick require proof for diphtheria, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps, and rubella immunization. In Manitoba, only measles vaccination is covered."

Exceptions are made for medical or religious grounds and reasons of conscience, but simply because there is legislation and regulation does not necessarily mean that something is made mandatory. However, those of us who do not have religious, medical or reasons of conscience to exempt us from vaccinations will likely view the situation as we must get vaccinations.

Certainly, with the revelation that any one of the COVID vaccines that's been undergoing development over the last few months could be available in North America as early as this month, there are what appear to be growing voices saying that they won't succumb to a mandatory vaccination program. According to Global News, support for a mandatory vaccine for COVID-19 is waning even as the numbers of cases continue to rise.

Some concerns have also hit social media reminding people of the years where thalidomide had been rushed out. Thalidomide was a drug developed to address nausea and insomnia in pregnant women and resulted in a range of birth defects for the children born to those who were inoculated with thalidomide. The thing is, thalidomide did not undergo the extensive research and testing that the various COVID-19 vaccines have undergone over the last several months, according to AP.

In fact, thalidomide was not approved for sale in the United States when it first came out in the 1950s. It did not go through the trials that the COVID-19 vaccinations have gone through. Americans in the 1950s were "given the drug in two clinical trials," according to AP's research. Once it was realized that thalidomide would lead pregnant women to have babies that had severe birth defects, United States regulators changed their policy on approving drugs.

While it does - somewhat - make sense that those active on social media who are wary about a COVID vaccine that might come out much faster than initially expected, comparisons to thalidomide are virtually nonsensical. This is over 50 years later, and the world has changed a great deal since then, including processes involved in approving medications and vaccines.

The bottom line is that while people might be a bit on edge that the government might require a mandatory vaccination, that's entirely unlikely, as forced vaccination appears to be against the law. The Ontario government suggested that they might pursue restrictions against those who choose not to get vaccinations for COVID-19, but the fact of the matter is, there are various exemptions that come into effect the second you start discussing vaccinations that you can not ignore. The problem is, the word "mandatory" conjures images of a government forcing you into some sort of servitude, and that's just not the case here. This is in large part due to the exemptions that are in effect and while it does make sense that the government would try to put greater restrictions into place for those who choose - for whatever reason - not to vaccinate, that by no means means that the vaccine suddenly becomes "mandatory."

There's too much weight that is carried by a range of words, and certainly, the word mandatory can definitely send shivers up people's spines. Think of it this way: you're a toddler and your mom has told you that you can't do something that you want to do. Suddenly, you're going to want to do that thing even more, right? The reverse is true. You tell someone it's "mandatory" to do something, and they will instantly become defensive.

It's perfectly reasonable that people would be concerned about the speed with which this vaccine has come out, but to perhaps determine you won't take advantage of a vaccine when it could prevent you from contracting a serious illness - and without any other valid reasons for doing so - simply because the government is saying it's mandatory seems counterintuitive as well.