Should vaccine passports be implemented in Ontario? I think so.

The discourse surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic has felt seemingly unending, with new arguments raised nearly every day about the ethics of mandatory vaccinations, the legitimacy of virus variants and the desperation to return to normal life.

The province of Ontario recently announced that patrons attending some non-essential businesses would be required to provide proof of their COVID-19 vaccination statuses in order to enter and utilize their services starting Sept. 22.

Residents will need to print or download their second-dose receipt and show it if they wish to eat indoors at restaurants and bars, go to gyms, movie theatres, sporting and concert venues, or use large meeting or event spaces.

I braced myself for the general public’s reaction to this announcement when it was first released and wasn’t surprised when I saw the onslaught of frantic, conspiracy theory-fuelled posts and fallacy-filled comments all over social media.

Now, the Karens who would normally yell at minimum-wage-earning teenaged cinema workers for not adding enough Butter Flavored Topping to their screaming child’s popcorn can switch gears and scream at employees for enforcing a government mandate they have no control over. Mask pulled down just underneath their nose while blithering about their “ personal freedoms” and holding up a line of people waiting to see the latest Marvel movie, just for good measure.

With all of the logical criticisms of this fast-approaching mandate that could be discussed, the most popular talking points these sceptics seem to be focused on are unfortunately the stupidest.

There is a befuddling fixation on the name of this mandated identification and the supposed growing grip the government has on the throat of the general population. By demanding vaccine passports, this flawed logic insinuates individuals are being controlled, closely monitored and their freedoms are being stripped from them.

The provincial government fucked up when they tried to produce a snappy little title for what is ultimately another Personal Immunization Record — which all children need to have in order to attend primary or secondary school in Ontario. Proof of immunization against the following diseases are mandatory: diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, meningococcal disease and chickenpox, which is required for children born in 2010 or later.

People are also required to receive and provide proof of certain immunizations in order to travel to specific countries.

I can almost guarantee that unless a person was homeschooled, most of the general population have a vaccination record of some sort.

I truly don’t understand how a vaccine passport is any more revealing in terms of personal information than a driver’s license or any other form of personal ID that’s needed in order to enter certain establishments or to gain access to various services that require them. Business owners won’t be asking for a blood sacrifice on the stoops of dimly lit bars. You can still bump and grind on the sticky floors of Phil’s, you just need to shove another ID behind the crinkled condoms and unused library card in your wallet.

And I hate to break it to you, but if you have any sort of online presence, a vaccine passport is the least of your worries in terms of your personal privacy being at risk of becoming exposed.

It’s the responsibility of the government to continue to educate the province on the benefits and science behind vaccines in the most effective and meaningful ways possible — which I can acknowledge they don’t always do well. But my sympathy can only extend so far if you’re going to believe a random Facebook post with spelling errors that one Snopes search could dismantle over advice from medical experts and scientists.

I don’t necessarily think the rollout of the vaccine passport will be a completely streamlined and effortless process. I have concerns for the employees working at these businesses who will have to suffer the inevitable abuse thrown at them by unvaccinated patrons for following these guidelines. What protections will be in place for them? I’d like to see that addressed as this mandate is pushed forward.

I worry for the Ontario small businesses who are facing an average of over $190,000 in debt from the pandemic and are expected to accurately cross-reference vaccine records, ID and doctor’s notes until a QR code is available in October.

These issues are not with the ID itself, but with the lack of overall support that seems to be in place for the people who will likely need it the most.

Forgive me if being in a pandemic that has taken the lives of over 4 million people has reduced my patience for conspiracies and the supposed robbery of freedoms that aren’t included in the constitution.

Currently, 61 Indigenous communities in Canada lack access to safe drinking water, we are living in the midst of a climate crisis and the highly contagious COVID-19 Delta variant is pushing us closer to a fourth wave — just to name a few, slightly more pertinent problems currently happening in our country.

My heart doesn’t bleed for the Chad who’s lamenting about his boycott of Beertown on Reddit because he refuses to get an FDA-approved vaccine.

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