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People wear face masks as they walk by a vaccination sign in Montreal, July 24, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world.Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

British Columbia health authorities reintroduced mandatory masking measures in the province’s interior region this week, in response to rising case numbers of COVID-19.

The alarming spike of the disease has mostly been among the young and unvaccinated. In fact, 95 per cent of recent cases in the Central Okanagan are among people who are not fully vaccinated. However, the public-health order will affect everyone.

That sound you hear is a simmering anger among those who long ago got vaccinated against COVID-19. People have lost patience with those who, for whatever reason, refuse to get inoculated and are consequently allowing the coronavirus and its variants to stay alive.

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Those who did the responsible thing are also frustrated with governments that are still dangling carrots in front of vaccine resisters without any indication there is a stick to come.

We’ve offered people the opportunity to win million-dollar prizes if they simply go to a clinic and get vaccinated. I never thought I’d see the day when governments would have to use taxpayer dollars to persuade people to get a shot that could save their lives and possibly the lives of others too.

It’s madness.

I am tired of this gentle persuasion business. People who refuse to get vaccinated are endangering lives. They are stalling a complete return to normal. Why is it that governments have no qualms about mandating mask wearing, but won’t mandate people get the jab?

We continue to pander to a group who, in many cases, are simply too lazy to sign up to get a shot. Or, they continue to embrace crackpot conspiracy theories and misinformation being spread on social media. We patiently hope that they will wake up and see the light one day, meantime their recalcitrance affects the rest of us.

Governments continue to be reluctant to infringe on the rights of people who choose not to get vaccinated. But they seem to care little about the rights of the rest of us who have done the right thing and listened to our public-health officials. Why are they subservient to the vaccine resisters?

It’s time governments in this country get tough. We need vaccine mandates and we need them now.

You are starting to see it happen in the United States. The City of New York has ordered all municipal workers to be vaxxed by the time schools reopen in the fall or face the prospect of weekly testing. The Department of Veterans Affairs is requiring that 115,000 on-site health care workers be vaccinated in the next two months, and more than 60 major medical organizations are calling for mandatory vaccinations for all health care workers.

That’s what we need in this country. It’s time we made those who continue to let the rest of us down accountable for their actions.

There is a lot at stake. The longer COVID-19 and its variants are allowed to exist the greater the chance of more mutations. Rochelle Walensky, head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the other day that we could be just a few mutations away from a variant that evades existing vaccines.

If that were to happen – and it was blamed on those who refused to get vaccinated and thereby gave COVID-19 the oxygen it needed to live and mutate – can you imagine the anger that would erupt? It would not be pretty.

At one point I was dubious about vaccine passports or some sort of certification that shows a person has been fully vaccinated. Now, I think we need them urgently.

People who refuse to get vaccinated should not have the same privileges as the rest of us. They should not be able to sit in restaurants or bars. They should not be able to work out in gyms. They definitely should not be able to work in long-term care homes or hospitals.

In the meantime, we continue to get down on bended knee and plead with people to get vaccinated.

The other day the B.C. government announced a campaign to get resisters to end their holdouts. As part of it, health officials will set up pop-up clinics on beaches and parks to entice people.

What’s next? Offering to come to their homes with a double chai latte? It’s ridiculous.

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