A video posted to Facebook last week shows Lethbridge Member of Parliament Rachael Thomas speaking about the concerns of unvaccinated Albertans.
The video was live-streamed to her Facebook page on Dec. 16 and now has more than 33,000 views.
“Ultimately these people are sharing with me that they’re losing their voice and their credibility. They are losing any sort of respect or appreciation within the community,” Thomas said in the video.
“We’re no longer willing to learn and ask questions and understand. Instead, we just slap labels on these folks as if they are the ones to blame.”
Thomas goes on to recount messages from constituents, including nurses, who say they’ve lost their jobs, ability to travel, and more due to being unvaccinated.
Dr. Lorian Hardcastle, an associate professor in the Cumming School of Medicine and faculty of law at the University of Calgary, agreed there has been an “us versus them” mentality throughout the pandemic as those who felt they were “doing their part” by receiving the vaccine felt let down by those choosing not to.
“I think that (the) frustration mounted as public health evidence encouraged them to get vaccinated, there were financial incentives, there were lotteries, there’s a vaccine exemption program,” Hardcastle said.
“As the unvaccinated had more and more incentives to get vaccinated, I think that only deepened some of that resentment that people had toward the unvaccinated.”
In the more than seven-minute long video, Thomas also addressed COVID-19 rates amongst the vaccinated population in Alberta.
“We see that the number of people who are coming down with COVID-19 and even being admitted to the hospital … (the number) of fully-vaccinated is actually greater than the number of those who are not vaccinated,” Thomas said.
When it comes to Alberta, as of Tuesday there were 116 fully vaccinated people in hospital with COVID-19, while there were 201 unvaccinated people.
More than 85 per cent of Albertans aged 12 and older have been fully-vaccinated with two doses — making up the majority of the population.
Hardcastle said it’s important to consider the population of each category when comparing the numbers.
“Undoubtedly, the vaccinated are going to form a larger portion of those who are in hospital,” Hardcastle explained.
“So for example, if you have a vaccine that’s 99.9 per cent effective, and 100 per cent of the population is vaccinated, 100 per cent of the people in hospital are going to be vaccinated.”
“Every single person that I’ve talked to has said ‘Racheal, I’m more than happy to be tested on a daily basis to make sure I’m not carrying the virus, to make sure that I’m not a public health risk,’” Thomas stated in the video.
Hardcastle added when it comes to supporting public health, messages like Thomas’ can be harmful.
“What tends to happen then is they become a bit of a martyr for those who are anti-vax and adds a fuel to their fire and gives them momentum in terms of perpetuating that anti-vaccine message.”
Global News reached out to Thomas’ constituency office multiple times to request an interview, but those requests have not been acknowledged.
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