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Requiring proof of vaccination in non-essential public places could help Alberta’s stagnant COVID-19 vaccination campaign, local policy expert says, as other provinces have seen uptake increase after introducing requirements similar.

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British Columbia announced this week that people will need to prove they have received at least one injection to attend indoor sporting events, indoor and outdoor dining, fitness centers, casinos and events. organized in theaters from September 13. They should be fully vaccinated. to attend such events by October.

This province announced the initiative for the first time on Monday. A day later, they saw just over 3,000 people receive their first dose and the next day more than 5,000 people received their first vaccine, according to provincial data released by CBC. Thursday and Friday, 9,094 people and 8,529 people respectively receive their first injection.

Quebec made a similar announcement this week and also saw jumps in the adoption of its vaccination campaign.

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Meanwhile, Alberta’s vaccination rates have remained stagnant this summer. The province saw a sharp increase in vaccinations earlier this year as it had one of the highest vaccination rates in Canada throughout the fall. However, the province has only seen a 7.7% increase in the number of eligible people who have received their first dose since reaching the 70% threshold needed to lift most public health restrictions in Canada. June.

Currently, 69.3% of eligible Albertans are fully immune.

Jean-Christophe Boucher, assistant professor at the University of Calgary, has been studying vaccine reluctance for almost a year now. He said the introduction of passports for vaccines serves two policy purposes: to restrict the movement of people and the spread of COVID-19 in non-essential indoor places and to increase the number of people getting vaccinated.

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He said data on the impact of vaccine passports on increasing rates is still new, but could create between 5 and 10 percent of use.

He said there are three main themes behind the reluctance to vaccinate, people don’t feel safe getting vaccinated, people think vaccines aren’t effective and they don’t trust or want not be told what to do by governments. He said the vaccine passports address the third theme of government mistrust by putting a price on decisions not to listen to elected leaders.

“In the grand scheme of things, what it does is it increases the cost of freedom. In many ways, that puts a price on your decision not to be vaccinated, ”said Boucher.

“In this context, people are always free to decide if this is the price they feel they are prepared to pay. But what we’ve seen in the past and what we’re seeing in these different jurisdictions is that some people at this point are saying, “You know what? My freedom is super important, but I also want to be free to go to a bar and go to a hockey game. ‘ “

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Manitoba also introduced the need for passports for vaccines while New York City and several European jurisdictions introduced similar policies. The federal government plans to require proof of vaccination on planes and for international travel, and Ontario is expected to introduce its version of a vaccination requirement next week.

Attendance at events at McMahon Stadium and Calgary Saddledome will require proof of vaccination.

Boucher said that in a place where people value their freedom, like Alberta, the requirement to get vaccinated to move around freely could be a major factor in getting people to go to appointments. vaccination. However, he said some people might be stubborn and continue to resist vaccinations.

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Cases, hospitalizations and intensive care admissions are all on the rise in Alberta. The province has registered 1,000 new cases every day for the past three days. Public health experts have urged that more public health restrictions be put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Boucher said if nothing is done in the near future, the current government may have to choose between vaccine passports and new sets of restrictions or blockages to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and overwhelm the health system. .

“The government has to make tough choices, that’s why you’re elected, and that’s why you are, you have the power to make these, you know, tough decisions,” Boucher said. .

Government requests for comment were not returned on Saturday.

Officials have previously said the province opposes enforcing vaccine proof requirements. Earlier this week, Health Minister Tyler Shandro announced on social media that Albertans could get a convenient size card, which is not a vaccination passport, showing their vaccination record.

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