We had a plan. When Jaimie would be able to book his vacation days for next year, he’d take a few weeks off in January for us to go to St. Barth.
St. Barth was the perfect vacation compromise for us. The sunshine and beaches for me; the island’s unusual, busy airport for him. I’m a swimmer and an ocean-lover and Jaimie is a plane spotter with a successful YouTube channel. We’d be able to enjoy a vacation together, he’d get some great content, and I’d have the best tan of my life. Win, win, win.
We started talking about this vacation at the end of 2020. Jaimie was working overtime and purposely collecting days off to spend as much time in the French Caribbean as possible. We both thought that by the time 2022 rolled around, the COVID-19-related travel restrictions would be a thing of the past.
What we did not anticipate was the vaccine passport.
Jaimie and I live in British Columbia, Canada, where a strict Vaccine Card policy has been in effect since September 13. Like in many other parts of the world, in BC, proof of vaccination is required for dining and drinking venues, fitness facilities, entertainment venues such as movie theaters and casinos, performing arts centers, sports arenas, venues facilitating team sports and classes, and organized events like weddings. And by October 30, 2021, anybody willing to travel on a plane or train within Canada will need to be fully vaccinated.
None of this is an issue for me. I got my first shot of Pfizer in May and my second injection in August. I’m set. I’ve already traveled to Europe, to visit my family and enjoy some time off work.
However, it’s a problem for Jaimie who remains unvaccinated to this day.
Jaimie is not a conspiracy theorist, he is not a Trumpist, he is not a right-wing nutter. His decision to delay his vaccination is not political. Jaimie has not gotten the vaccine yet because he has doubts. He reads the news that says the vaccine loses its efficiency after a few months and asks himself if waiting for a vaccine with longer-lasting protection is the way to go. He reads that vaccinated people can still get ill, albeit rarely seriously, and wonders, as a healthy man in his early 30s, if he would get seriously ill with or without the shot. He reads that vaccinated people can still transmit COVID-19. He waits because he has misgivings. He wears his masks and respects the social distancing precautions. He does not behave like COVID-19 does not exist and he does not wish to endanger people. He just needs some time.
I don’t want to be in the business of telling people what to do, especially when their health is concerned. I love my partner and respect his decision because it’s not based on fake news and it’s not political nonsense. If he were to tell me what to do with my own health, I’d tell him off. His body, his choice is my line of thought.
Unfortunately for me, Jaimie is far from the only member of my family to be unvaccinated. My parents, both retired nurses, are not vaccinated yet. My brother isn’t either. All three of them are scared. “This vaccine is too new. Every medical act has possible consequences and we don’t know just yet what they will be of this particular inoculation,” my parents say.
I’m not scared, I believe in science, but I didn’t want to attack them with facts and ruin our time together. I do want them to be able to come visit me in Canada, but I can’t force their hand.
While in Europe, I faced the same issue with my parents as I did with my partner — we couldn’t go to the restaurant together or grab a cup of coffee on an outdoor patio. Everyone needs a health pass in my home country, even to access the library. With a rapid test done at the pharmacy for 29 Euros (about $34), they were able to obtain a temporary, 72-hour health pass. That way, we took a three-day seaside vacation to a spa hotel and treated ourselves to meals at the restaurant. This option is not available in British Columbia.
January 2022 is a few months away and maybe, by then, Jaimie will have taken the plunge or been forced to get vaccinated through his work. In the meantime, we can’t plan our Caribbean vacation any further. It sucks, but that’s not my primary concern.
What’s on my mind these days is that anxiety-filled separation that so many of us felt only a few months back, when travel was almost entirely forbidden. That is, if something happens to one of my family members in Europe, he won’t be able to come with me. I won’t have him by my side. And if something happens to me, my family won’t be here either.