Rational Reflections on Society from a Pro-Vaccine, Unvaccinated Person
“When the pandemic finally ends because removing the unvaccinated from society was the panacea, I'll eat my hat.”
I haven’t been regularly posting blog articles in the last few months for two reasons. The first is that we have been very busy with our newest project (off-grid home). But the second one, is that I have a hard time finding motivation to write about subjects other than the most important one affecting my life and society as a whole right now. That subject is vaccinations. This topic is consuming me. Not because I have yet to receive a COVID vaccine. I would be incredibly troubled by what is happening regardless of my personal decision. I’ve put off writing about this subject for a long time but I think we are digging ourselves deeper and deeper into a problem, the more we sit back and avoid discussions. So today I will share my thoughts on this subject. It might not be particularly relevant to our previous blog subjects but I find it incredibly relevant if you want to live a mindful life.
I want to reflect on two questions: First, are we taking the right approach for the short term? And second, are we risking too much long-term damage? Long-term damage to public trust in health authorities, public trusts in all institutions. And most importantly long-term damage to personal relationships and society as a whole.
Before I go too deep on this subject, I want everyone to take a step back and realize that they are allowed to have the following simultaneous viewpoints. I know it sounds obvious but I think our media and some authorities have tried to force us to think that you cannot hold these two views together:
Why shouldn't we mandate the COVID vaccines?
Today I’ll present a thesis outlining under what conditions forced vaccination could be justified from a historical comparison, while taking into account the current reality of this pandemic. Then I’ll discuss the reasons why we are not currently meeting any of these conditions.
The only way we can pursue forced vaccination in certain settings or in society as a whole baring ethical consideration, is if all of the following 3 criterias are met:
Risk: The particular vaccine or procedure is proven long-term to have virtually no risk. All previously forced vaccines related to education or travel have involved products that had long-term data proving them to pose essentially no risk.
Longevity: When talking of vaccines, they must provide long-lasting protection comparable to traditionally mandatory vaccines in order for them to be forced. (The Polio vaccine lasts 18 years, the Measles and Yellow Fever vaccines provide immunity for life…). You cannot force a product or procedure on people every 6 months.
Effectiveness: Not taking the vaccine must make you a significantly higher risk to the general public. Essentially when it comes to a vaccine, it must be very close to 100% effective such as traditionally forced vaccines like Measles, Yellow Fever or Polio (all three are nearly 100% effective after a full treatment).
When I say virtually no risk, I am not implying that the current COVID vaccines are particularly risky. But they are far from being without risk. All medical procedures carry risk and vaccines do as well. Health Canada and Public Health Ontario track vaccine adverse events, and although the rate of complications over the entire population from COVID vaccines is low, it is much, much higher than any other vaccine ever developed. It is particularly more concerning for certain demographics. Take for example young males in the 18-24 age group who have developed myocarditis at a rate of 1 per 5,000 second doses of the vaccines according to recent reports from Public Health Ontario
Experts haven’t been able to explain why mRNA vaccines' serious adverse events are significantly higher than any other traditional vaccine ever offered to the public. The serious adverse events rate for COVID vaccines is approximately 1/10,000 doses in Canada. The serious events rate for all other vaccines in Canada has historically been closer to 1/100,000 doses.
Source: Health Canada https://health-infobase.canada.ca/covid-19/vaccine-safety/
It may be related to the new technology and it may end up being an acceptable level of risk long-term but I think it’s important to understand why the serious adverse events rate is nearly ten times higher than all other vaccines ever offered to the public.
Again, I will reiterate that the COVID vaccines are not to be discounted strictly based on risk. For most of the population, even with elevated adverse events risk, the cost/benefit analysis might be clear. However, it’s not obvious for everyone. Consider that Health Canada revoked their recommendation on the AstraZeneca vaccine months after it was released. It’s also why Ontario recommended against Moderna for 18-24 year-olds after offering it to this group for 6 months, because of an unacceptably high level of myocarditis risk. The data is always evolving for such a new vaccine technology.
So in essence, we have vaccines that are an amazing development of medical technology and can help millions of people. But to a well-educated, non-conspiracy-theory-following adult like myself (and many others), don’t appear to be “no-brainer” for all.
When I use the term “no-brainer”, I mean a procedure that is so obvious that you don’t need to think much about why you should get it. One example of a no-brainer could be getting sutures, if you cut yourself really badly. I don’t believe the Covid vaccines are a “no-brainer”. Beyond what I’ve outlined so far we also have to consider that this vaccine was invented one year ago and we have no long-term data. It is using a revolutionary technology (using genetic materials vs. an inactive virus which was how every single vaccine was created until 2020) which forced Webster’s dictionary to rewrite the definition of vaccine. And the disease it protects against has been shown to present a relatively minor risk to the majority of the population.
What if you think the vaccine is a no-brainer from a risk standpoint? This is an interesting question that I’ve struggled with as well. Often when I struggle with a problem like this, I try to take the other side’s argument as my own. So I like to pretend like I truly believe that for everyone, taking this vaccine is as much of a no-brainer as seeking sutures after a severe cut on your arm. With this assumption we must discuss if the currently available COVID vaccines meet the other two criterias (longevity and effectiveness) to see if forced vaccination is justified.
Six months ago, the longevity and effectiveness of the vaccines had much brighter outlooks. Earlier this year, the vaccines appeared to have the potential to give long-lasting immunity (some experts thought that maybe it would be good for years or decades). The vaccines were also said to be over 95% effective at preventing the spread. Two criterias that I outlined earlier that could justify forcing this vaccine on people.
Unfortunately things didn't go as planned.
To start, the longevity of immunity appears to be very short. That is why most jurisdictions are suggesting booster shots 6-8 months after the original course of vaccines. Even the most senior health expert in the US, Anthony Fauci confirmed this recently when he stressed how important it was for everyone to go out get a booster, as hospitals are seeing an influx of breakthroughs cases
Many will point out that the flu shot operates this way, so it’s expected. Without considering the fact that the flu shot formulation is generally changed year-to-year depending on the dominant strain. For COVID, we are offering the same exact vaccine mixture as the original shots as a booster…We have also never forced the historically mildly effective flu shot on the population as a whole. Only 31% of adults 18-64 got their flu shot in 2018.
The only example of forcing vaccines on people related to schools (measles, mumps etc.), travel (yellow fever), or society based (tuberculosis) involved vaccines that had: i. long lasting immunity (often lifelong) ii. very high effective rates and iii. long-term safety data before being mandated. The COVID vaccines clearly don’t. They are correctly comparable to a seasonal flu shot from a longevity and effectiveness standpoint.
A great example of how the vaccine is not as effective at stopping the spread as some have hoped is the recent news from The Ottawa Senators. The team competed last season with no vaccination coverage whatsoever and had no outbreaks. Although they implemented a strict mandatory vaccine policy this season, over 50% of the team contracted the virus once it entered the locker room. The vaccine might have reduced the potential severity of the players’ symptoms, however it clearly didn’t significantly stop the spread in that outbreak.
The CDC Barnstable study from late July further confirmed that the vaccines don’t stop the spread very well. There have been many studies confirming this as well. In the CDC study, they found a pretty equal number of cases from a large community outbreak among the vaccinated and unvaccinated per capita. They even found that the vaccinated and unvaccinated who had COVID had similar viral loads meaning they could spread it just as easily. The CDC cited this particular study as justification for reimplementing universal mask recommendations for all (even the vaccinated) in August.
Just looking at Ontario’s data, the vaccinated account for nearly 40% of the recent cases.
As I write this on November 19th in Ontario, in those aged 12 or older, there were 132 more cases in the vaccinated than the unvaccinated. (I removed the under 12 to properly judge the vaccine effectiveness as this cohort is ineligible for the vaccine). When adjusting for population sizes, the infection rate if you are unvaccinated is now just 1.9x higher than if you were not. That is down from being 3.5x higher just 8 weeks ago.
(Source: Quoted from @Golden_pup’s daily analys on Twitter, verifiable by the Ontario daily epidemiology summary, https://data.ontario.ca/en/dataset/confirmed-positive-cases-of-covid-19-in-ontario)
This would indicate that the vaccines are closer to 50% effective and not 95% as promised. They do provide some protection comparable to a seasonal flu shot however, it is not significant enough to justify forcing this product on everyone at a minimum once per year.
Again, I will state that this does not discount the two main points I started this essay with. The vaccines are still important in our fight against COVID. But at best, they mildly protect the individual against the severity of outcomes from COVID.
So the vaccines could be a theoretical “no-brainer” from a risk perspective to you, but since the immunity doesn’t last and the effective rate is very questionable, the justification to force them on people who view them differently than you is very weak.
I think it’s overwhelmingly clear that the vaccines have been a disappointment and a failure with respect to effectiveness and longevity. They could still be a success at preventing the severity of the disease to the individual. They are a failure, not because they aren't an important tool. They are a failure because they were over-promised. If I promise you $10,000 for a service next week but then only deliver $1,000, that would be a failure even though $1,000 is a significant sum of money.
They are not being “forced” on people…
If you think that this vaccine is not being forced, then consider the following. Someone who has chosen not to get a COVID vaccine in Canada:
-Cannot attend organized events, funerals or weddings
-Cannot enter most public establishments
-Cannot run for or occupy political positions
-Cannot attend meetings to voice their concerns
-Cannot volunteer on most boards or for most organizations
-Cannot visit loved ones in many settings
-Cannot have even a single visitor at their house (in certain provinces of Canada).
-Cannot have a job or livelihood and are barred from collecting employment insurance if they lose their job because of their decision.
-Cannot participate in sports or bring their children to participate in sports
-Cannot use public transportation to travel between provinces
-Cannot leave the country (a restriction that was previously only ever applied to convicted felons).
-Is constantly dehumanized by politicians, authorities and the mainstream media. (Here is just one example of the multiple hate-fueled stories that mainstream media accept and promote these days: https://www.nugget.ca/entertainment/celebrity/you-are-an-enemy-gene-simmons-slams-evil-people-refusing-covid-vaccine/wcm/66871abf-e667-4001-8c68-72a2a5f8b22e?__vfz=medium%3Dstandalone_content_recirculation_with_ads)
Short of imprisoning this demographic of people, there is no other way to conceive this as not “being forced”.
If in the short term, we are seeing minor benefits from these rules, they are difficult to see. Overall on a country-to-country basis, COVID cases and hospitalization appear to be higher than this time last year. Even in places with 70-80% vaccination coverage. Even considering the rise in cases, if you would still like to try and make the case that vaccines are helping stop the spread, then consider the following:
How much of the supposed reduction of spread is attributable to the 60-70% who volunteered to protect themselves from COVID with vaccines (particularly the elderly and vulnerable who represent an overwhelming majority of cases, deaths and hospitalizations from this virus)?
How much of the reduction of spread is attributable to the 20% who were forced to get a vaccine in order to be accepted in society and keep their livelihoods?
How much of the reduction of spread is attributable to the ostracizing and dehumanizing policies on the remaining 10% of the population who simply made a different personal health decision than you would have liked?
Even if we disagree on everything else I’ve said today, if the third factor provides negligible benefits then is it worth it?
When I talk about long term damage, it’s important to consider the so-called “anti-vaxxer” movement and the danger of miscategorizng this group. I should state that I have received nearly every vaccine ever suggested to me in my life including the annual flu shot. Even when only 20% of my age group has historically gone out of their way to get it. I have also kept up with all the childhood vaccinations for my three children. But unfortunately I have been labelled a blatant anti-vaxxer. This post, may well even be banned from social media platforms as it will be flagged as anti-vaxxer. Why is this dangerous?
The 25-30% of the adult Canadian population (approx percentage of people unvaccinated before forced vaccination policies were implemented) who may have valid reservations about this particular vaccine are being lumped into the tiny percentage of the population who oppose all vaccines. Although I disagree with true anti-vaxxers, I’ve come to sympathize with them as I understand that their views may be due to a long-stemming and justifiable lack of trust of health authorities. And I would never wish to dehumanize them because their views are different from mine. By labelling a COVID-specific vaccine skeptic or someone who is simply against mandatory vaccines as a universal “anti-vaxxer” we may very well turn them into one, as that is the only group left willing to listen or accept them.
I believe that some health authorities are purposely creating and dangerously encouraging this association. It’s a useful technique to create a common enemy and it is working... But at what cost? The long-term effects of having just an additional 5% of parents refuse regular childhood vaccines down the road could lead to enormous setbacks in the overall vaccine movement and cause harmful outbreaks in the future. Health experts and politicians need to move away from the divisive language they are using and the rules they are applying that are driving people to pass immediate judgement to anyone who is not vaccinated.
When you reflect on what we have already allowed to happen so far to a certain group and what additional measures we are perfectly capable of allowing as a society unless we speak up, consider who the vilified, unvaccinated are. They may not speak publicly (for obvious reasons). They may be well educated and well informed. They may be your close friend, coworker, cousin or neighbour. They may be days away from losing their job, their livelihoods, their purpose in life. They may have quietly accepted the fate of a second class citizen but it doesn’t mean they don’t suffer. Consider it could be you if you happen to choose not to get a future booster shot. Consider it could be your child if you are reluctant to receive the child vaccinations that will be available shortly (recent surveys show that over 50% of parents are unsure if they will get their healthy child vaccinated against a virus that is not very dangerous to them). Consider what divisiveness does for a society long-term?
What about vaccines for children?
I’ve been asked what I think about vaccines for children and my view is the same as with adult vaccines. You can hold these two simultaneous views once again. At the beginning that might be easy, but things will change quickly and it might become more difficult to battle the supposed majority:
If you don’t think vaccines are right for your child, DO NOT JUDGE or criticize a parent who decides that a COVID vaccine is the right course for their child. But if you think your child should be vaccinated, DO NOT JUDGE or criticize those who decide that they don’t want to. Let’s become humans again.
Keep in mind the Health Canada panel that authorized the children’s vaccine had these comments in their 24 page report
“It is essential that children aged 5-11 years and their parents are supported and respected in their decisions regarding COVID-19 vaccinations for their children, whatever decisions they make, and are not stigmatised for accepting, or not accepting, the vaccination offer.”
“it is not justified to vaccinate children only to benefit others”
“The overall safety and effectiveness data are limited for children”
“Any uncommon, rare, or very rare AE that occurs at the frequency less often than 1 in 1,000 would not be detected with this trial size.” (This is because the number of children who received the vaccine as part of the Pfizer trial was very small).
“Given the short- term uncertainties surrounding pediatric vaccination at this time, children and their parents or guardians should be supported and respected in their decisions”
Could we apply their guidance on stigmatization and reflection to 12-18 year olds as well? Why not young adults? Why not all humans….
I know my post today is controversial and I will pay for it. I will pay socially and financially for writing about this topic. But also for coming out of the metaphorical vaccination status closet. But It’s too important to not talk about it. And I’d like others who feel alone in this world to know that they aren’t. That rational discussions can still take place. That other humans still see you equally.
Reflect on this essay before you make the decision to ban unvaccinated people from your home. Or when you make off-hand comments with hatred about this group based on inconclusive and incorrect assumptions that they are solely to blame for this pandemic. The virus may be forgotten one day, but I can guarantee you, your relationships will suffer forever if you don’t think hard on these decisions.
I’ll reiterate that you can simultaneously hold the two views I started this essay with. But you cannot hold these views while supporting the way we are moving forward. You also can’t support the current rules while “respecting someone’s decisions to not get vaccinated”. If you believe that what is happening to them is fair, don’t pretend that you respect their decision. I speak from an unvaccinated person's perspective when I say: don’t further treat us like children. Please stick to your beliefs if you think what is happening is correct. When the pandemic finally ends because removing the unvaccinated from society was the panacea, I'll eat my hat.
I’ll end this essay with a simple message for whoever actually took the time to read this far:
Take the time to reflect on what is happening. If you read or follow the news, don’t always trust what you hear. Follow the numbers. Take out the calculator and run the numbers yourself. Read different perspectives. Even if Google and Facebook will make it incredibly difficult to find. Try a search engine that doesn’t restrict what you can see (one example is Duck Duck Go). If you read comments on Twitter or Facebook, know that the order that they appear are determined by an algorithm and do not necessarily reflect the consensus (for example Twitter and Facebook will often place all pro-mainstream comments before counter comments giving the appearance that the majority support a point of view that the social media giants choose).
Be skeptical of what is determined as false or misinformation. It definitely exists, however the term is being much too overused to label any content on the web that doesn’t support a preferred view or to attack any expert or public voice that tries to question the ones in positions of authority. This essay will in all likelihood be considered misinformation. Not because my information is wrong but because my opinion is deemed wrong. My opinion could be wrong but it doesn’t equate to misinformation.
Consider if there would be more experts and politicians with a differing view on this subject speaking out if the social and reputational cost wasn’t so high. Google Dr. Francis Christian or Dr. Byron Bridle for just two of many examples of these costs. In these cases two reputable doctors working for Canadian universities had a slightly counter-mainstream view on vaccines which may end up being wrong. However, they have been incredibly defamed by the media and authorities for asking simple questions. One of them was even terminated from his position as a surgeon and professor because he publicly questioned if we should be vaccinating children. In the last year, any politician who dared questioning if lockdowns were the right path or if vaccine mandates were acceptable, have been kicked out of their party and had their chances at reelection severely hampered.
Reflect on your own region, community or social circle. Have there been more or less cases than one year ago when no one was vaccinated? Has there been much less spread since we decided to start dividing society so harshly?
Reflect on all the places you seek to travel to, who don’t have overloaded hospitals or collapsing societies despite the fact that they haven’t lockdowned in over a year or mandated vaccines for all. (Think Florida, Mexico, Sweden etc.). Mexico, with their level of openness and tourism from all over the world has no hospital systems in jeopardy, no lockdown restrictions, absolutely no vaccine or testing requirements to enter their country. All while having a population that is only 49% vaccinated. Florida has never had mask mandates, never mandated vaccines and hasn’t restricted their economy in over a year. They now have one of the lowest active case counts per capita in the country and their total COVID death rate per capita of the pandemic is near the national average (lower than model lockdown states such as New York, New Jersey). Then there is the curious case of Sweden, which the media will avoid talking about at all costs. Here is a good summary of how they did despite being as reckless as Florida. (https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10178701/amp/How-Sweden-swerved-Covid-disaster-WITHOUT-lockdown.html).
There is another way…
If you see a poll or story in the media saying 80% of Canadians believe… be very very skeptical. Ask ten people you trust and you will get a widely different story.
If you think what is happening is wrong, write a 5000 word blog post… just kidding. But you can have a voice. Even if you're vaccinated. Tell you favorite restaurant that you don’t like showing your papers. Tell your politicians that they are going too far. Share this article with people you know. Don’t be afraid to have a differing opinion than the majority. Speak to your health experts and ask them questions. Ask them all the most important questions that we should have all asked, discussed, debated since the start of the pandemic: Is it worth it? Were lockdowns worth it? Was the toll we inflicted on society's children for nearly two years worth it? Was the increase in suicides, depressions, unemployment, addictions worth it? Were the missed medical appointments and procedures worth it?
PS: I’ve decided to start another blog account on substack.com. This article will be posted there and all the sources linked are much easier to open. I also posted a previous essay I wrote this past summer when I came to the analytical conclusion that the vaccines were not right for me. You can subscribe to that blog if you would like. That is where I will keep my more controversial posts from now on. We will be back next week with a more traditional blog post about how we have become chicken farmers.
Substack blog: https://rejeanvenne.substack.com
PPS: Here are some recent alternative viewpoints you can check out.
1. An opinion piece by the vice-chair of Toronto’s board of health. She is also a Toronto city councillor. https://torontosun.com/opinion/columnists/wong-tam-lets-choose-discourse-over-divisiveness
2. A senior doctor at the NIH (major health regulatory body in the US) speaks out on the ethics and ramifications of vaccine mandates: https://www.google.com/amp/s/thehill.com/changing-america/well-being/prevention-cures/580557-senior-nih-expert-pushes-back-on-growing-vaccine%3Famp
3. Another article by a prominent doctor published by one of the leading medical journals, The Lancet, outlining why we MUST end the stigmatization of the unvaccinated: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(21)02243-1/fulltext
4. A Canadian infectious diseases experts says that booster shots are a slippery slope: https://www.google.com/amp/s/globalnews.ca/news/8373612/neil-rau-covid-19-vaccine-booster/amp/
5. Ontario based fact-based data analysts.
6. For comic relief, watch any of JP Sears’ satire based videos. His take is sometimes over dramatic but he provides a hilarious perspective on the state of society. https://youtube.com/user/AwakenWithJP