09:49:46 pm on
Friday 07 May 2021

Big Push Blues
David Simmonds

I have the Big Push Blues this week.  All I can think about are the negative aspects of the vaccination campaign that’s Coming to A Major Public Facility Near You. Let’s consider a few of those negatives.

Covid news is to be avoided.

I can’t bring myself to watch Covid-19 news on television anymore. It’s not that I’m squeamish, although my wife would say it is and I am.  It’s just that every story has the same visual.

I’m sick of looking at needles plunged into arms just below the shoulders.  I saw it so often I could probably vaccinate myself.  Can they not up with something more imaginative; they can do amazing things with graphs and charts these days. 

If I need to watch endless vaccinations, let me do it on some obscure cable channel that already gives detailed coverage to facelift and tummy tucking surgeries. They don’t cover the testing of Olympic athletes for performance enhancing drugs, with the same graphic intensity. This is probably just as well.

Turning to another reason for my Big Push Blues, we now have four approved vaccines in Canada. This should prompt scenes of rejoicing.  Yet, I worry this is going to give rise to a wave of one-upmanship and consumer finnickiest. 

“Oh, I could have got the Pfizer vaccine, but I chose the Johnson and Johnson because it’s just one shot and you’re done.”  “Yes, that may be true, but I prefer the AstraZeneca because it’s got a higher success rate among seniors.” We’re not oenophiles, choosing from a wine list in some fancy restaurant: we are in the middle of a pandemic. 

We should consider ourselves lucky to be offered anything, with a high degree of efficacy. We should take it graciously. Certainly, more graciously than this column approaches its subject.   

Then there are those little ethical issues a mass vaccination campaign throws up. We’ve already coped with deciding who gets the vaccine first and how access to ventilators is allocated when there aren’t enough of them to go round. There are many more ethical traps awaiting us.

Is vaccine priority for sale?

For example, can a person sell her priority access to vaccine status to someone or switch places in line with his favourite niece? Can someone sell his or her first shot and not the second or vice versa? What might be the going price for a first shot or a second shot or both shots?  

Are the first, second and third cadres of vaccinees, if that’s a word, allowed to go to live events and shop in stores? Are the poor stiffs in the fourth, fifth and sixth cadres isolated by the colour of the zone in which they are stuck? Can the colour of zone be sold or traded?  

How will people confirm they, indeed, have been vaccinated? Will they have to produce papers? Wear a computer chip?

Federal health minister Patty Hajdu informed us the other day that Canada along with other countries is considering the issuance of a vaccine passport to facilitate international travel.  Once it’s out there, what’s to stop banks from requesting this information in deciding whether to give you a mortgage? What of forgeries?

Will the unvaccinated become de facto second-class citizens. Will they wear some sort of distinguishing symbol to warn the vaccinated of their presence? Will getting a job post pandemic depend on you having had your vaccination?

What of distinguishing the ‘yet to be vaccinated but anxious to get it’ group from the ‘don’t want to be vaccinated for personal reasons’ conscientious objectors? Shouldn’t those who refuse to contribute their bodies to the task of developing herd immunity suffer a little pain for their conviction that it’s all a plot by Bill Gates to control the world or at least, that part of it that Jeff Bezos doesn’t already control?

Too many vaccination shots. Vaccine consumerism.  Secondary status for the unvaccinated. They’re all giving me the Big Push Blues. 

Spring Break?

I’m just hanging on until the spring break. No, wait, that’s now the break come later; a month to go. At least we got an hour of daylight back, a few weekends ago.

Some readers seem intent on nullifying the authority of David Simmonds. The critics are so intense; Simmonds is cast as more scoundrel than scamp. He is, in fact, a Canadian writer of much wit and wisdom. Simmonds writes strong prose, not infrequently laced with savage humour. He dissects, in a cheeky way, what some think sacrosanct. His wit refuses to allow the absurdities of life to move along, nicely, without comment. What Simmonds writes frightens some readers. He doesn't court the ineffectual. Those he scares off are the same ones that will not understand his writing. Satire is not for sissies. The wit of David Simmonds skewers societal vanities, the self-important and their follies as well as the madness of tyrants. He never targets the outcasts or the marginalised; when he goes for a jugular, its blood is blue. David Simmonds, by nurture, is a lawyer. By nature, he is a perceptive writer, with a gimlet eye, a superb folk singer, lyricist and composer. He believes quirkiness is universal; this is his focus and the base of his creativity. "If my humour hurts," says Simmonds,"it's after the stiletto comes out." He's an urban satirist on par with Pete Hamill and Mike Barnacle; the late Jimmy Breslin and Mike Rokyo and, increasingly, Dorothy Parker. He writes from and often about the village of Wellington, Ontario. Simmonds also writes for the Wellington "Times," in Wellington, Ontario.

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