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Column: Questions on reopening plan

Rhea Jones' monthly column Dear Mom & Dad
Rhea Jones 002
Dear mom and dad

Wouldn’t it be lovely to enjoy the summer sun without the stress of masks, social distancing and COVID-19? It has been well over a year of COVID-19 mania and it’s fair to say that everyone is ready for life to return to normal, especially for the summer.

That’s why Jason Kenney’s recent announcement on May 26 regarding the new reopening plan stirred so much excitement. The three-stage plan aims to have almost all COVID-19 restrictions lifted by early JJuly.

Great news, the only catch is that in order for this to happen 70 per cent of the eligible population must have their first dose of the vaccination and COVID-19 related hospitalization must be under 500. While there’s nothing we want more than to return to normal there are a few questions that this announcement raises.

Although they are simply trying to encourage people to get the vaccine, health decisions should always be based solely on health, not on whether we can see our family, travel, gather and regain our personal liberties. Tying these freedoms to a percentage of people who get vaccinated may be a good way to motivate people to get the vaccine but is it an appropriate approach? While the vaccine isn’t mandatory, if we can’t return to a state of normalcy without it, how much of a choice are we really given?

The relaunch plan is labelled Open For Summer, but what about open for the fall, open for life? When cold and flu season starts back up in the fall we may likely see a rise in cases again. Does that mean we’ll be back to lockdown once summer is over? While the plan hopes to remove all restrictions in the summer there are no promises about what’s to come in the fall and winter.

As we all know viruses mutate constantly and we have already begun to see different variants of COVID-19, therefore it is likely that booster vaccines may be required in order to maintain immunity.

If so, is it realistic to expect a 70 per cent compliance rate of ages 12 and above on a yearly basis?

At this point over 60 per cent of the eligible Albertan population has had their first shot of the vaccine making 70 per cent by early July a realistic goal.

However, once we do reach that magic number what happens to the 30 per cent that are unable or unwilling to get the vaccine? In order to be a functioning society, we must respect and include everyone even if they have made different choices.

Some people are unable to get the vaccine due to health, religious, or personal reasons and it’s important that we still be kind, inclusive, and not discriminatory towards our fellow citizens.

Additionally, we must remember to respect each other’s privacy. Although lots of people are excited to share and talk about getting their vaccine, keep in mind that medical history is a personal thing and people reserve the right to keep theirs private.

The last thing we need is for this to create division amongst our families, friends, and community. This pandemic has already caused more than enough stress and strain on relationships. In saying that, let’s spread nothing but love, respect, and understanding and have an exceptional summer.