This Letter to the Editor was published on 2022-1-19 in the print edition of The Suburban
A common trap for the unwary is to make the assumption that when two phenomena are associated, it must be because one causes the other. Many people, including columnist Lise Ravary (Montreal Gazette 2022-1-11), have jumped to the conclusion that the significant number of unvaccinated individuals hospitalized or in the ICU with COVID-19, is because of their vaccination status. Sadly, our political leaders have fallen into the same trap, and while their science advisers (and responsible journalists!) should be disabusing them of this notion, those people are strangely silent.
Instead, it is highly likely that other factors are causative both of high infection rates, high illness severity, and not getting vaccinated. Those factors include low socioeconomic status resulting in more crowded living spaces; greater likelihood of employment in high-risk occupations such as personal care workers, grocery store cashiers, or abattoir workers; a higher likelihood to be working in more than one setting such as multiple nursing homes; and finally, less able to access personal protective equipment. Low socioeconomic status also means poorer quality diets, resulting in more comorbidities such as type 2 diabetes or obesity which contribute to COVID-19 severity. And low socioeconomic status also results in low vaccine uptake for a variety of reasons, most of which have nothing to do with vaccine refusal.
But let’s talk about vaccine refusers. We know that many “antivaxxers” also refuse basic pandemic control measures such as social distancing, wearing masks, and avoiding large gatherings, and are more likely to ignore other health recommendations regarding diet or exercise. So, many possibilities, besides not being vaccinated, that could contribute to high infection and illness severity.
Why are our provincial government leaders so keen on demonizing the unvaccinated? Maybe a scapegoat will make it easier to evade responsibility for their mismanagement of our health care system and of the pandemic!
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