Alberta Health Minister Jason Copping expressed concern over an Open Letter by healthcare workers objecting to the Alberta Health Service (AHS) vaccine mandate.
"A group of healthcare workers, calling themselves Health Professionals United, object to AHS' decision to require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19," reads a statement from Copping.
He said the AHS's position reflects their "paramount obligation" to protect patients, especially the sickest and most vulnerable patients in hospital or continuing care.
In an August 31 release, AHS said this necessary step is required to protect patients, vulnerable and immuno-compromised Albertans, and anyone who visits or works at any AHS site, including healthcare facilities.
However, they said any AHS employee unable to be immunized for a medical reason or another protected ground under the Alberta Human Rights Act would be reasonably accommodated.
"Ultimately, this is an issue between some staff and their employer, and I respect that," said the health minister, adding AHS intends to accommodate members who cannot be vaccinated on health or legitimate religious grounds, "as they should," he said.
Still, HPU maintains its "strong opposition" to mandatory vaccinations.
"As of November 1, 2021, or earlier, AHS' decision to implement such a mandate will prevent many dedicated health care workers and other AHS staff from performing the jobs they have done valiantly over the past eighteen months," reads the letter. "This will put our currently severely strained health care system under further undue and needless pressure and put more Albertans at risk due to our inability to provide care for our patients."
They "respectfully request that the vaccine mandate be rescinded immediately," adding its contrary to section 2 of the Charter, "freedom of conscience and religion" as well as section 7, "the right to life, liberty and the security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice."
Copping pivoted to address other claims in the letter, calling them "misleading" or "incorrect."
"My concern is the message the letter sends to the 630,000 Albertans who are eligible to be vaccinated but haven't yet done so," he said, adding: "most of them are sincerely uncertain and looking for guidance."
However, the health minister expressed "deep concerns" the letter would influence some of them to choose not to be vaccinated. He urged Albertans to make their decision based on "better information."
"Listen to our chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, or the countless other physicians, healthcare professionals and scientists who publicly support vaccination," said Copping. "Or better yet, talk to your family doctor, nurse practitioner, pharmacist or other healthcare professionals."
Though acknowledging healthcare professionals could explain the evidence "better than I ever could," he said the letter "does not reflect good science or good healthcare advice."
"We're in a crisis due to our low vaccination rate, and the one sure way out of it is for more of us to get vaccinated."
3,864 AHS vaccinated and unvaccinated healthcare professionals signed the open letter to endorse its contents at the time of publication.
One of its organizers and a practicing Albertan physician spoke with The Post Millennial on the condition of anonymity, stating he gathered a group of doctors to convey to Albertans "We are not anti-anything. We are pro-open discourse."
"Many people are dying from COVID," he said, claiming "many seem to be dying from [the] vaccination," and "the world is on a dangerous trajectory."
He said as one of the physicians to endorse the letter, it was important to ask "inconvenient questions" concerning the COVID pandemic and vaccines.
The letter claims the efficacy of the COVID vaccine weakened after a few months, citing AHS data that showed one-in-four of all new cases are fully vaccinated patients. Nearly one-in-five of COVID hospitalizations are also fully vaccinated, with percentages continuing to increase.
The effectiveness of Pfizer's COVID vaccine steadily declines over time, dropping to about 84 percent for vaccinated people about four to six months after getting their second dose, according to its CEO Albert Bourla.
Moderna's COVID vaccine was over 90 percent effective at protecting against COVID up to six months after the second dose.
"What evidence does AHS have for mandatory vaccines in those individuals?" asked HPU.
The overall survival rate from COVID is approximately 99.7 percent and varies by age and underlying health status.
"Historically, scientific consensus has been that natural immunity is superior to vaccine immunity," reads the letter. "Many health care workers are already COVID recovered and immune."
Copping said it's true getting infected with COVID gives residents some natural immunity, but contested we don't know how long it lasts.
"What we do know is that you have much more protection if you also get immunized, even if you've been infected," he continued. "There's some evidence that antibodies from natural immunity decline after three months, while protection from vaccines lasts longer. The evidence is still developing, but here's one study on results to date."
The health minister also contested the letter referencing the number of people supposedly harmed by vaccination per the US Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) as "deeply misleading."
According to the letter, COVID vaccines injured at least 650,077 Americans and killed 13,911 people soon after their administration. "These numbers could be 10-100x higher as a Harvard study showed only 1-10 percent of all adverse events are actually recorded," it reads.
"Our experience corroborates the Harvard study's findings that the vast majority of temporally related adverse events are not being correlated and reported by healthcare workers. Suppose we don't correlate these temporally related events and report them. In that case, the data will never be there to accurately assess causality and truly ensure safety, which is the bedrock to obtain proper informed consent."
Copping responded: "Medical professionals have not reviewed the data in VAERS, so we don't know how many of the reports in it may be duplicates or if the COVID vaccine really played a role in a given report."
The Government of Canada reports on legitimate medical issues after vaccination. Of the 16,090 individual reports (0.029 percent of all Canadian doses administered), 4,288 were considered severe (0.008 percent of all doses distributed). Here is the link to that information.
"The bottom line is that it remains your choice whether to be vaccinated – for yourself and your kids if you're a parent," said Copping. "Getting vaccinated helps protects you and the people around you."
"I did it – both doses – and I urge you to do it too – for yourself, for your family and our community."