Get vaccinated, but it shouldn’t be mandatory

Dear Editor:

I have close friends and family members on both sides of the COVID vaccination debate. As for myself, I was uncommitted until my workplace imposed a mandate that all employees of the company had to be vaccinated. Shortly after I got my first COVID vaccination, most of my wife’s family came down with COVID. Her mother came close to death but thankfully recovered.

All of these family members were unvaccinated. This convinced me, in no uncertain terms, that I had made the right decision for myself.

People have chosen not to vaccinate for many reasons. In my workplace, people are putting their jobs and their future livelihood on the line to stand up for their convictions.

The question is this — is it right for the government to mandate compulsory COVID vaccinations? Or should we have the right to refuse?

If my neighbour chooses not to vaccinate, to what extent does his choice threaten my life if I have chosen to vaccinate? About 1,000 vaccinated people have died in Canada this year due to having contracted COVID. That number is not inconsiderable, but it is only about 15% of all the people who have died of COVID overall. Those who choose to get additional booster shots decrease their chances even more.

Supposedly, the regular flu vaccine prevents the spread of the flu virus by around 50%. Many have chosen not to get the regular flu vaccine in the past. The medical community did not deem it necessary to mandate compulsory vaccination for regular flu, even though people fall ill or die of the flu every year.

In a free society, we all pay a certain price for the personal liberties of others. We pay when our neighbour chooses to smoke four packs of cigarettes a day and then winds up in the hospital. We pay when our neighbour chooses not to get the regular flu vaccine and infects our child. The alternative — a society that restricts every liberty that could possibly threaten others — is one that most of us would not be willing to tolerate.

Vaccinations are a precedent. The government in Canada has never forced people to get vaccinations or to vaccinate their children. Even during the H1N1 epidemic of 2009 (a particularly virulent and infectious strain), compulsory vaccination was not implemented.

I believe COVID vaccinations are an effective means to mitigating the spread and veracity of the virus. But I am not the king of Canada, and if I were, I’m sure I would be as roundly hated as Justin Trudeau, Stephen Harper, or anyone else who might pretend to wear that crown.

I also believe in a certain level of liberty for every person living in our country, understanding that I may not personally ascribe to all of their liberties.

The COVID vaccination should be a choice.

Meryl Duprey, Westbank

Province using flawed info in forestry decisions

Dear Editor:

The past few months of fires and floods in the Okanagan has clearly proven that a forest is worth more standing.

The essential benefits or ecosystem services we receive from trees of all ages including flood control, wildfire breaks, water storage and filtration outweigh their value as 2x4 lumber and toilet paper.

The Okanagan Nation Alliance is formally opposing the B.C. government’s old-growth deferral plan, declaring that many of the areas mapped for protection in their territory are simply not old-growth forests.

Some of the community forest holders in ONA territory are rejecting the process the province has used to identify old-growth forests

This is the same process government and industry has agreed upon and used to clear cut forests in BC for the past 20-plus years.

All inventories including the vegetation resources inventory have inaccuracies. Inaccuracies give rise to uncertainties. The problem in B.C. is how the inventory is used, not how good it is. The staff that use the inventory to conduct timber supply reviews and the chief forester, who determines allowable annual cuts, do not apply a precautionary principle and do not account properly for the uncertainties.

The Syilx Okanagan Nation is pointing out inaccuracies, which arise from an inventory having inaccurate classification, an inventory that is not current and updated for logging and wildfire, or an inventory that is so old (greater than 10 years old) and needs to be redone (re-inventoried). The solution to the inaccuracies that the Syilx point out is ground-truthing — actual field work. 

Since field-based inventory has been paused for decades, the province has taken an inaccurate database and made it even more inaccurate through computer estimates of assumed growth rates

In short, neither the government or industry really place value in an accurate forest inventory. People in the know in both industry and government know we are running out of trees. Better not to let the people know, as they might rise up, perish the thought! In the meantime, cut the best of the rest, and invest the profits outside of BC. 

What an indictment of forest professionals and the B.C. government, and proof that we live in a colonial, extractive economy that places virtually no importance in the public good — the public trust for future generations. 

Wouldn’t it be better to be more precautionary, save these trees even if only a few years shy of the magic definition of 140 years to be considered old growth? Climate change will have the last laugh.

Taryn Skalbania, Peachland

Sounds like Coke, but spelled like Coq

Dear Editor:

Re: the Dec. 14 headline “Coke may open for Christmas.”

The Coquihalla highway is hard to spell right so can be easily recognized by locals when shortened to “the Coq,” but please not “the Coke.” Coke is a soft drink.

Michael Riley, Kelowna

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