Today, on my day 9 quarantine in Calgary, Canada, I am starting this blog! As a frustrated Canadian citizen living through the pandemic, I feel I need a platform, through which I can voice my worries, frustrations, and fears. And yes - I have many of those these days!!!
On August 13th, 2021, Justine Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, called an election, and announced that should his party win, he would make the Covid 19 vaccine mandatory for all travellers and the federal workers in Canada. Wow!!! I remember where I was when I heard the shocking news: I was in my rental apartment in Malaga, Spain. My husband and I had been in Spain for about five months, and had been planning on flying back to Canada to stay here for the rest of the year.
My mother-in-law had been ill and was needing a surgery back in Canada. We were worried about her health and wanted to return to Canada to be near her. My husband was especially looking forward to the trip back to Canada.
The news of the mandatory vaccine, potentially coming into effect soon, was something that could disrupt our travel plans. This was because I was partially vaccinated, and after having experienced serious and long-term side effects of the first shot, I decided not to go for my second jab. My husband, though, was fully vaccinated, and thus had no issues go backing to Canada. I, on the other hand, wasn't sure how the news of mandatory vaccine could affect my daily activities and the right to move once in Canada.
On June 10, 2021, I rolled up my sleeve and got my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. In the weeks leading up to my appointment for the first dose of the Covid 19 vaccine, I was both happy and scared. I was happy because like most people I was tired of the pandemic, and I just wanted it to be over - I was tired of all the hand washing, hand sanitizing, grocery sanitizing (yes, we did all that for a very long time), social distancing, and all the other daily precautions we took restricting our ability to live a free fulfilling life. I was tired of all of that! But, I was also worried! Why was I worried? I was worried because, being a person with a lot of chronic health issues, I wasn't sure how my body was going to react to a new vaccine, which we didn't know and still don't know much about. Even the doctors and scientists didn't know much about it either. Everything was and still is new; all the information regarding the side effects was coming in as more and more people got their first and second jabs. The information regarding the side effects was being updated daily, and this was worrisome for somebody like me who had always needed to be careful about what was being put in her body that could potentially induce a massive immune response causing injury. This was what I was worried about, and it sure turned out to have been a legitimate concern.
A few days after my first Pfizer shot, my body stopped functioning as it used to: I started experiencing serious digestive issues and extreme heart palpitations, which I had never experienced before even as a person with chronic health issues. I started noticing extremely painful lymph nodes throughout my entire body, and my digestive system became extremely intolerant to the foods that I could previously eat with no reactions. Suddenly, I am having nausea, diarrhea, and tummy aches, and my heart is beating so fast leaving me feeling completely out of breath and anxious wondering if it's gonna beat right out of my chest.
In the next few weeks after the first Pfizer shot, I was in and out of the hospitals, medical clinics and the doctor's office trying to understand what was happening to me and if I could get some relief for my symptoms. In the weeks and months following my first shot, my heart was tested 4 times and I had several diagnostics done including blood work, which all came back normal showing no signs of real damage or illness. This was comforting as I had heard about people whose heart had been damaged after the vaccine or those who had suffered life threatening blood clots after their first or their second dose. However, not being able to get a diagnosis or treatments would mean suffering in silence and living with debilitating symptoms interfering with my daily life.
While the doctors that I had seen were all baffled about what was happening in my body causing all these different symptoms, they all agreed on one thing: Vaccine had definitely something to do with what was happening to me since all these symptoms began shortly after taking the vaccine. I had no digestive issues of this sort, and had never experienced heart palpitations in my life. Even when I would get anxious or nervous, I would never feel my heart racing or beating out of my chest. But this was my daily experience weeks and months after the vaccine, and even today, as I am writing this blog, although the severity of my symptoms has diminished over time - thank goodness for that - I am still nowhere near how I was before I took the vaccine. In short, 4 months later, I am still not myself. The struggle continues, but, as if I haven't already endured enough pain, I have now found myself trying my best to navigate my life through all the unimaginably unfair restrictions that those of us, unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, will soon face in the face of the looming mandatory vaccination policies in Canada, a country where I once called home and was so proud to be a citizen of.
But don't get me wrong! This experience hasn't caused me to be against vaccinations in general. In fact, I believed in the vaccine when I decided to go for my first Pfizer shot. If I had been against vaccination, I wouldn't have gone for my first shot, no matter how much I was tired of all the restrictions. But this experience has thought me something invaluable: No vaccine or drug can be safe for all people! There will always be individuals who will suffer injury as a result of a new medical intervention, be it a vaccine or a drug. In fact, since my horrendous experience with the Covid 19 vaccine, I have met thousands of people online who have had similar experiences, and whose lives have never been the same. I have also met individuals who have suffered more serious injuries, some irreversible, like paralysis, stroke, and heart attack. Thankfully, those with life-threatening post-vaccine injuries have been lucky enough to have made the news, though not as much as or as often as those who have died or suffered from the Covid itself. Others like me, with non-life threatening post-vaccine injuries, though, are still struggling to be heard, to be seen, and to be supported. We feel ignored since our ordeal has been downplayed again and again by the doctors, health officials and politicians who have sworn to protect all of us. We feel we are not being listened to, or given a platform, through which to share our concerns or to raise awareness about the potential and serious side effects of the vaccine because it could potentially discourage more people from taking the vaccine, which has been advertised as fully safe and effective.
As someone who has experienced post-vaccine injury, I find the mandatory vaccination tyrannical, unfair, and a serious violation of human rights. Any medical intervention that has listed death, paralysis, stroke, heart inflammation, or bell's palsy as its potential side effects, regardless of how rare these side effects may be, should not and must not be made mandatory. A policy to protect people from the virus should be an inclusive one, one that would provide alternatives to those who cannot or will not take the vaccine for fear of injury, which is a legitimate concern. An alternative to vaccine can be screening for Covid 19. In Europe, vaccination is not mandatory for travel, nor is it a requirement of employment. Alternatives such as testing are provided to those who are unvaccinated. I flew from Spain to Canada, with a layover in France, and had no issues getting on a plane or eating at an airport restaurant because I had proof of my negative Covid test. That is how it should be in Canada too. Vaccines should be made available to those who would like to get them. But those who do not want them shouldn't be coerced, or threatened to lose their jobs.
The right to participate in society and to have access to services of all kinds is the fundamental right of being Canadian. Taking away this right under the pretence of protection and safety is nothing but lie and deception when this protection can be done without trampling on the rights of those who have decided this medical intervention will be too much of a risk for them Giving people the right to choose what they put in their body is democracy. Forcing them to get a potentially harmful vaccine and not providing alternatives in the name of protection is dictatorship.
The day that the mandatory vaccine will come into effect, with no alternatives or accommodations for those who choose not to take the jab for whatever reason, will be a sad day for democracy, liberty, and bodily autonomy. I hope more people, vaccinated or unvaccinated, will wake up and oppose the ruthlessness of such mandates and the division it could cause.