Chatham-Kent’s Medical Officer of Health is pushing the urgency for a COVID-19 vaccine certificate system but believes senior levels of government need to step up.
According to Dr. David Colby, quick action is required, but he emphasized the provincial or federal governments must be involved for any such program to be effective.
He said local medical officers of health across Ontario are encouraging the province to create a vaccine certificate system to provide proof of vaccination.
“I am very much in favour of this concept,” said Colby.
He added there is an urgent need for an easy-to-use and hard-to-falsify vaccine certification system.
“The federal government is working on that, but they apparently are a long way away from being able to deliver it,” said Colby. “Without a certification program, then really we are stuck being unable to implement any kind of differential program to provide incentives for people to get vaccinated.”
Premier Doug Ford has publicly rejected the idea of a vaccine certification system, saying he doesn’t want a “split society.”
While some argue the downloadable receipts which people get after receiving their shots are proof of vaccination, Colby says they are “simply a printout.”
“They are receipts,” said Colby. “They are not any kind of official certification of vaccine status. I would take it one step further and say there is very little utility to develop a regional approach. This has got to be a federally or provincial approach.”
Colby stressed a vaccine certificate would only be needed for certain activities and venues, dismissing the notion that a person would require one to enter a grocery store as “nonsense.”
The region’s top doctor added there is increasing evidence that vaccination requirements are more effective at preventing outbreaks than requiring a negative COVID-19 test.
“People who have been exposed and are incubating the virus can test negative and, even hours later, start shedding the virus,” he said. “A recent negative test provides a little bit of assurance, but not proving to be effective to stop outbreaks, and I think policies need to reflect that.”
Noting that vaccine misinformation spreads “almost like the virus itself,” Colby urged people to get the shot, calling it safe and effective.
He added that a 90 percent vaccination rate is required to stall the highly transmissible Delta variant.As of Aug. 27, in Chatham-Kent, 71 percent of residents 12 and older have received both doses, while 73 percent of the adult group (18+) have received both doses.
“We’ve got to figure out as a society how we’re going to get there,” he said. “It really upsets me that vaccine hesitancy is based on so many false factoids,” said Colby. “People should not have fear based on rumours and misconceptions. We need to roll up our sleeves, and we need to do it now.”
Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News