By Parry Sound-Muskoka MPP Norm Miller
As you have undoubtedly heard you are now required to show proof of vaccination to access some businesses and facilities across Ontario. For the vast majority of people this should not be a problem. As of September 21, more than 79 per cent of eligible Ontarians were fully vaccinated.
Why is the government doing this?
Requiring proof of vaccination is not something our government wanted to do but, like most other provinces in Canada, Ontario determined this is the best chance we have of controlling the fourth wave of COVID-19, avoiding overwhelming our hospitals, and avoiding further shutdowns.
The vaccines are effective and safe. They significantly reduce the chances of getting COVID-19 and make it very unlikely that you will have severe illness requiring hospitalization. During the fourth wave, the vast majority of new cases of COVID-19 (approximately 75 per cent) have been in people who are not fully vaccinated. For example on September 21, of the 574 new cases in Ontario, only 140 are in people who have been fully vaccinated while 434 are in people who have not been fully vaccinated.
As well, of those who do get COVID-19, unvaccinated individuals are more likely to suffer severe illness. Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kieran Moore, has stated that unvaccinated people are 24 times more likely to end up in hospital and 43 times more likely to require intensive care. On September 21, of the 179 people in Ontario ICUs with COVID-19, only nine had been fully vaccinated while 170 had not.
Where will this apply?
You will be asked for proof of vaccination to enter higher risk, non-essential businesses and facilities such as:
– Restaurants and bars (excluding outdoor patios, delivery and takeout);
– Nightclubs including outdoor spaces;
– Meeting and event spaces;
– Facilities used for sports and fitness activities with the exception of youth recreational sport;
– Sporting events;
– Casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments; and
– Concerts, music festivals, theatres and cinemas.
These venues were selected based on the evidence of where COVID-19 transmits most frequently and most easily. Some people have questioned, for example, why you need to show proof of vaccination to eat in a restaurant but not to go in to get takeout. For some time scientists have said transmission is most likely when people are in close proximity without masks for 15 minutes or more. If you are going into a restaurant to pick up take out you should be wearing your mask and aren’t likely to be indoors with other people for 15 minutes whereas if you are eating in the restaurant you will take your mask off and be indoors for longer.
These requirements do not apply to settings where people receive medical care, grocery stores, drug stores, medical supply stores and the like. Aligned with public health measures currently in place, indoor masking policies continue to remain in place.
How do I prove I’ve been vaccinated?
For the first month you will be required to show the receipt you received when you got your second shot along with a piece of photo identification to enter the venues listed. If you need a copy of your receipt you can visit covid19.ontariohealth.ca and print or download the record of your vaccination. If you are medically unable to get vaccinated because of allergy or adverse reaction to the first shot, you can show a doctor’s note. By October 22, a new vaccine certificate with a QR code will be available along with a free app that businesses can use to scan the QR code.
Let’s all try to be kind.
I have heard that some business owners are being harassed about whether or not they will enforce this and ask for proof of vaccination. Remember these businesses are simply complying with provincial requirements. This is just like a bar checking ID to ensure patrons are of legal drinking age. If you disagree with the requirement for proof of vaccination, please don’t take that out on business owners and staff who are just trying to do their jobs.
The same goes for those people in our communities who are not yet comfortable getting vaccinated. The proof of vaccination policy will limit where they can go but there is no need to be unkind when explaining this to them.
To those who are still unsure about the vaccines, please talk to your doctor, nurse practitioner, or pharmacist about your concerns. Personally I trust in the medical advice to get vaccinated and I have done so, as has my wife and our kids. Our grandchildren aren’t old enough yet but I understand Health Canada is now reviewing Pfizer’s study of the safety and effectiveness for children five to 11. I look forward to the time when they too can be vaccinated.
Finally, I do support this requirement to show proof of vaccination. I believe it will help businesses remain open and will give those who are fully vaccinated more confidence to go out and support those businesses knowing that everyone around them in the theatre, gym, or restaurant who can be vaccinated has been vaccinated.
Photo of MPP Norm Miller is courtesy of his office. Queen’s Park photo “June 2012 Ontario Legislature Toronto” by Priscilla Jordão, via Wikimedia Commons, is licensed under CC BY 2.0 / Cropped from original.
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