A veteran’s letter to the unvaccinated (written for Remembrance Day)
November 11, 2021
To the unvaccinated: As a 20-year veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces reflecting upon those who made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve the safety of our society during this annual period of remembrance, I am having a difficult time understanding why you choose not to vaccinate against COVID-19. Can you help me understand?
Your refusal must be based on what you believe to be the negative consequence of taking the vaccine. Perhaps you are concerned that the vaccine would make you ill? Or worse, kill you? The research has been clear that the vaccine is safe as less than 0.0009% of people who have received it have suffered adverse effects 1 , a much smaller risk than getting in your car every day to drive to work (0.5% chance of injury 2 ). However, if you are someone who relies on this rationale for avoiding the vaccine, if this is your fear, then who am I to argue.
The other prevalent reasoning that is espoused by the over-riding majority of those who choose to not vaccinate is that no one, especially not the government, should tell you what you should be putting into your body – you are not willing to compromise your bodily integrity. It is your body after all, and you only get one of those. If the decision to vaccinate had zero impact on others within your society, such as abortion, then I completely agree that it should be your body, your choice; I would not get involved.
However, in the case of the COVID-19 vaccine and the pandemic, your decision does have an affect on those within the society in which you choose to live. Quick recap: it is a virus; it transmits from one person to another making others sick and has killed almost 30,000 people in Canada and 1.75 million people worldwide.
In the military, there are those that fight on the front lines and face great risk to their safety, and those who fulfill staff roles on bases throughout Canada whose day-to-day risk is similar to those working downtown Toronto. The commonality between all, past and present, who chose to put on the uniform of the Canadian Armed Forces is that at one moment in our lives we literally signed our name on a legal document to signal that we were willing to risk our own safety, and perhaps our lives, to preserve the health and safety of other Canadians. As a person who took that oath and upheld it for twenty years, I hope you can appreciate how it would be difficult for me to understand the position that you are not willing to put your desire to maintain your bodily integrity over the expense of the health and safety of
those within the society, again, in which you choose to live.
While I do not have an expectation that all Canadians must take the same degree of risk that members of our military have taken, I do have an expectation, a request, that those who are not yet vaccinated take time this Remembrance Day, not only to remember those who have served and died to keep us safe, but to reflect on the intensity of the stakes that these fellow humans put on the line for your health and safety. Now is an opportunity for you to make a sacrifice, one that 85% of Canadians have already done, and get the vaccine.
Today, on this Remembrance Day, I ask that those who are unvaccinated and eligible to receive the vaccine to look to our members of the Canadian Armed Forces and our veterans and recognize that their bravery is in the service of you, of all of Canada. Now is the time for your show of bravery. It is a sacrifice that is worthy of recognition. A sacrifice that puts the preservation and safety of our society, where you choose to live, ahead of yourself.