Canadian troops queue in droves for vaccinations, 85% of them having received a dose – Penticton Western News
Canadian military personnel have turned up en masse to be vaccinated against COVID-19, with the Department of National Defense reporting that more than 85% of all troops have received at least one dose.
This contrasts with an apparent rash of vaccine reluctance in the US military, where some reports suggest up to a third of US soldiers have refused to be vaccinated.
Defense Department spokesman Daniel Le Bouthillier said the majority of unvaccinated Canadian servicemen did not refuse to receive a blow, they simply did not have the opportunity to strip their guns.
“A significant portion of the currently unvaccinated staff appear to be those who may be on leave of various forms or in more remote locations with limited access,” he said. “As it stands, we are very happy with the acceptance of vaccines by our members.”
Members of the Armed Forces have received vaccines through the military health care system rather than the provinces or territories in which they live, as the federal government has reserved tens of thousands of doses specifically for them.
Troops are not required to be vaccinated, but military leaders have encouraged them to do so for protection. The same is true in the United States, where commanders have started offering days off and other incentives to get shots.
These incentives have been at least partially credited with a recent increase in the number of U.S. military personnel who have been vaccinated, but concerns persist about the large number of people who have decided not to be trapped.
While there isn’t a single reason why American troops are more reluctant to get vaccinated than their Canadian counterparts, Carleton University professor Steve Saideman believes the level of politicization of vaccines in states United is a major factor.
“In the United States, there are people on the right side of the political spectrum who think that doing this sort of thing would be against their identity,” said Saideman, who is also director of the Canadian Defense and Security Network. . “That they are not good Republicans if they wear masks and if they get vaccinated.”
Saideman compares it to Canada, where leaders on all sides of the political spectrum have been keen to encourage Canadians to get vaccinated, including Ontario Premier Doug Ford and his Alberta counterpart Jason Kenny.
“So even the people who were on the right,… they led or at least modeled the right behavior in terms of the shot,” he said. “In the United States, it’s a much more mixed thing.”
Members of the Canadian Armed Forces are also vaccinated faster than the rest of the general population, with only half of Canadian residents having received at least one dose.
But only about 5% of the military have been fully vaccinated with two vaccines, a figure comparable to that of the general population where just over 4% are fully vaccinated.
Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press
Canadian Armed Forces Coronavirus Vaccines