By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
When it comes to the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, Dr. David Colby wants local residents to separate fact from fiction.
According to Chatham-Kent’s acting medical officer of health, some “disturbing allegations” were made to Chatham-Kent council last month stating vaccines are dangerous and can even kill.
“Nothing could be further from the truth,” Colby told a recent Chatham-Kent Board of Health meeting, noting all vaccines must pass rigorous Health Canada standards.
“To cast doubt on the approval process is just false,” Colby stressed.
The MOH was speaking to a host of deputations made at Chatham-Kent council in support of a policy change put forward by North Kent Coun. Rhonda Jubenville calling on the municipality to suspend of COVID-19 policy regarding new hires.
A number of people spoke in favour of Jubenville’s stance, including former Chatham-Kent–Leamington MPP Rick Nicholls who has become a prominent spokesman against the COVID-19 vaccine. In his deputation, Nicholls quoted from the Druthers Report – a favourite information source for the anti-vax movement – claiming that 80 Canadian doctors have died because of the vaccine.
Other misinformation Colby countered in his presentation were allegations that the vaccine’s ingredients are hidden and unavailable.
“This was alleged in two depositions,” Colby said, adding it isn’t true as “anybody can get these.”
Chatham Coun. Brock McGregor, acting vice-chair of the board, said it’s important to base decisions on science.
“It’s important at public health that we share accurate, up to date, evidence-based information,” he added.
Colby also debunked another claim that vaccines are ineffective because people have to get repeated doses and vaccinated people are catching the virus regardless.
Calling that a “complete misunderstanding,” Colby said protection from the vaccine is “brisk, but short lived,” noting the scientific community had no way of knowing how the virus would continue to mutate.
However, Colby said the most important fact about the COVID-19 vaccine is that the “benefits outweigh the risks.”
The COVID-19 vaccine is “highly effective at preventing severe outcomes,” he stressed, noting the esteemed Lancet medical journal says at least 20 million deaths were prevented by the vaccine worldwide and that number excludes China.
Colby quoted a famous line that states, “In war, the first casualty is truth,” noting that if the news media doesn’t provide a counter opinion by fact checking, misinformation goes unchallenged.
“Some of the allegations are very skimpy on facts,” he explained, with some knowingly “making up facts.”
Colby said there’s a problem in society with binary or “black and white” thinking based on falsehoods spread on the Internet.
It’s not that simple, he added.
“Scientific evidence must be weighed and assessed objectively.”
Colby said the objective of public health is to keep everyone as safe as possible and no one should mislead people about safe scientific protocols.
Colby said that if you don’t provide a counter opinion, misinformation goes unchallenged
“We don’t have the freedom to mislead people,” Colby stressed.