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Editorial: Personal 'freedom'

A social media post from Airdrie-East MLA Angela Pitt last week caused members of our newsroom to sigh in exasperation.

A social media post from Airdrie-East MLA Angela Pitt last week caused members of our newsroom to sigh in exasperation.

Pitt wrote a post on her Facebook page on April 20 that suggested people should do their own research when deciding whether or not to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

“You know what's so great about freedom? Freedom,” wrote Pitt. “Get your vaccine or not and let others make this choice for themselves too. Do your research and do what's right for you. This doesn't need to be a polarized conversation about any individual’s private health life.”

Pitt’s post – once again contradicting her own government’s messaging – suggests an indifference to whether or not people should be vaccinated. Her rhetoric will do nothing to support Alberta’s fight against a surge in COVID-19 infections.

We’re curious what Pitt means when she encourages people to “do your own research.” We believe there’s a significant difference between the months of work epidemiologists have conducted to develop these vaccines and Googling “does the COVID-19 vaccine work?”

Vaccine doubters should look at Israel, the United States or the United Kingdom – countries that have led the way in immunization rollouts – as proof the vaccines are working. On April 24, according to a story from the Times of Israel, the country reported 38 new cases – the lowest daily total in a year.

For a more local example, look to Prince Rupert in northwest British Columbia. Back in March, the community of 12,000 people had among B.C.’s highest transmission rates of the virus. At its peak, Prince Rupert was experiencing 117 weekly new cases. That dropped to three new cases from April 11 to 17, after a mass immunization effort. 

As a public servant, Pitt’s suggestion that it’s OK to forego life-saving vaccines in the name of personal freedom is irresponsible. She should use her platform as an elected representative to encourage residents to put their trust in health-care professionals – not their own Google searches.