Josie Luetke:

Interim writer, Josie Luetke, Talk Turkey

I am unvaccinated. These days, that admission feels like a confession, rendering me more of a social leper than if I had stated “I am undocumented” or “I am HIV positive.” 

As I wrote earlier in the year, I believe everyone should be equipped with all the information necessary to decide for themselves whether to be vaccinated or not, based on their own unique circumstances. 

If you’re among the 77 per cent of eligible Canadians who are fully vaccinated at time of writing, I respect your choice, as there are many compelling reasons to be, including not overburdening our health care system.

In my case, “getting jabbed” would likely reduce the severity of illness if I were to get COVID-19 (which is very different from the perfect immunity Justin Trudeau, Jagmeet Singh, and other politicians are pretending you’re granted), but I am relatively young and healthy, so COVID-19 does not pose a great threat to me.

The vaccines may also reduce the likelihood of transmission, seemingly because your body fights off the virus quicker and you’re less prone to coughing/sneezing, which spreads the virus more than mere exhalation. However, the mainstream media overexaggerate the extent and duration of this reduction, with some research suggesting vaccinated and unvaccinated carry similar viral loads of the Delta variant. 

Furthermore, there are many other factors impacting the likelihood of contraction and transmission—environment; level of naturally acquired immunity; frequency of testing; adherence to health measures like masking, physical distancing, hand-washing, etc. 

The vaccines may offer some benefit, but also costs: short-term side effects (which likely won’t be severe), and long-term side effects (which I hope would be non-existent or minimal, but are ultimately unknown, which, to be fair, could also be said about COVID-19).

Of course, all COVID-19 vaccines currently available in Canada have been produced with and/or tested on cell lines derived from an aborted fetus. So, too, have many products like Tylenol, Advil, Aspirin, Aleve, Benadryl, Claritin, Tums, Pepto-Bismol, etc., but an inability to avoid all remote cooperation with evil doesn’t mean it’s pointless to avoid it when you can. (For example, it’s still worthwhile to boycott Starbucks for its support of abortion, even if you’re not prepared to boycott Uber for the same reason.) 

There’s another cost I’ve had to include in my calculus regarding whether to be vaxxed or not to be vaxxed. 

Surely, you’ve seen the advertisements, which are neither moral nor educational appeals: “4 in 5 Toronto residents are planning to get or have already got their shot!” and “Every day, more and more people across Ontario are receiving their COVID-19 vaccine. So do your part and book your appointment today.” In Newfoundland & Labrador: “Just get it. Registration now open for 12+.” 

Instantaneously, my back is against the wall. Doing something just because everybody else is doing it is a terrible reason to do something, a lesson that pro-lifers already know very well. Encouraging individuals to buckle to social pressure destroys critical thinking and any sense of personal accountability. 

If we are to take seriously the obligation to prevent injustices like the Holocaust from ever happening again, we must protect and nurture the individual conscience. We must peel away from groupthink in horror, as 1984 coaches us to do.

I know that if I were to be vaccinated, I would be rewarding this messaging, and I would be incentivizing governments to employ it in the future.

Impatient, they have already moved from social pressure to the more coercive vaccine passports.

There are many occasions which justify a curtailment of liberty, but everyone should enjoy a default assumption of it. Based on the current severity of COVID-19, alternative methods of risk management, and concerns with available vaccines, I don’t think this gross infringement on liberty can be justified.

These vaccination requirements are not in place because the risks cannot be otherwise mitigated. This is the stick to coerce more of the population into being vaccinated; these are punishments for noncompliance more than health measures.

As the worlds of the unvaccinated grow smaller and smaller, the pressure to give in will increase. I know people who already have.

I’m more privileged than most in that I’m not presently worrying about losing my livelihood, opportunity for post-secondary education, nor the ability to visit family members and friends. 

The more they’re willing to deprive you of your rights in order to get you to do what they want, the more reason you have to resist. 

Everyone will calculate the personal cost of resistance into their decision, but I ask you also to factor in the cost of obliging authoritarianism to both existing and future generations.