covid exemption

Ontario's top doctor thinks vaccine passport exemptions are given out too liberally

It's been nearly two weeks since Ontario's new vaccine passport mandate began restricting access to select public indoor spaces, rendering those opposed to inoculation against COVID-19 unable to frequent the bars, gyms, venues and other places that they may have previously enjoyed.

The province has, of course, ensured that anyone with a valid exemption from getting the jab will not be subject to the new measure, which will factor into the QR code system when it comes out later this month.

Exemptions range from situational circumstances to medical reasons, of which there are only two, aside from being under the age of 12 and thus not approved for vaccination: having an allergy to a component in the vaccine, or having experienced myocarditis or pericarditis (inflammation of the heart or its membrane) after your first shot.

For medical exemptions, residents must present a letter from a doctor or nurse practitioner (complete with their logo or official letterhead) verifying the condition, the effective time period for the exemption and the medical professional's name, contact information and licensing info.

(So no, a fake card of some sort won't do.)

But, the province's chief medical officer of health is now saying that these exemption documents are being dealt out far too liberally given how statistically unlikely the aforementioned conditions are.

"We should be seeing medical exemptions [in] around one to five per 100,000 [people]... We are seeing a higher [number] reported by workers, and I think it deserves a review," Dr. Kieran Moore said during a press briefing on Tuesday, stating that some employers and sports leagues are seeing exemption rates of up to two per cent.

"That does seem high, and we have to have physicians and nurse practitioners better aware of what the true medical exemptions are. The partnership with the college of physicians and surgeons and the college of nurses is ongoing to educate medical experts on what the exemptions are and try to improve on their knowledge base. It is an ongoing quality improvement initiative."

Moore also noted that regarding the first of the two exemptions, allergists have found in many cases that they're able to safely administer doses under supervision to patients who thought they would have a severe allergic reaction.

He also reasserted the benefit of the vaccine's protection, which he and other experts agree far outweigh any risks as tensions surrounding the issue continue to heighten.

Lead photo by

Alex Mecl

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