Another school year begins while COVID continues to rage. Last fall, had we been able to look a year into the future, we would have predicted a pandemic long since brought to its knees by plentiful, astonishingly effective vaccines. Instead, due primarily to the reluctance of some Canadians who, bewilderingly, refuse the vaccines, the latest COVID variant has us once again on our knees. This is an astonishing display of irresponsible citizenship, of mistrust in our governments and of the democratic institutions that underpin civilization as we know it. When confronted with COVID “anti-vaxxers” in the midst of a crisis that vaccinations could resolve, what is an educator to do? This month, we offer an obvious, yet oddly overlooked, resource: taxpayer-funded Health Canada, with the experts and organizations we pay to provide us with the best available information and advice.

  • Health CanadaYes, Health Canada. Our taxes pay to have the best doctors and scientists guide our health decisions, yet when anti-vaccine people tell us to “do the research,” they rarely include this obvious first stop. After all, “Health Canada is responsible for helping Canadians maintain and improve their health. It ensures that high-quality health services are accessible, and works to reduce health risks.” Or, do the anti-vaccine people mean we should read scientific articles? If so, consider this excerpt from the top of a scientific paper on mRNA vaccines: “Vaccine A uses the wild-type sequence of GP (MGVTGILQLPRDRFKRTSFFLWVIILFQRTFS), whereas Vaccine B uses the signal sequence from human Igκ subgroup V (METPAQLLFLLLLWLPDTTG). The mRNAs were purified and resuspended in a citrate buffer at the desired concentration. A donor methyl group S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) was added to methylated capped RNA (cap-0), resulting in a cap-1 structure to increase mRNA translation efficiency [8]. LNP formulations were prepared as previously described [6].” (

If, like me, you do not know how to read or interpret this excerpt—let alone evaluate it—we must rely on scientists we can trust to explain it to us in terms we can understand. Enter Health Canada—paid for by us to do exactly that. We trust these scientists to tell us what’s what about COVID, just as we trust Health Canada’s sub agencies that ensure product safety for everything we buy, from heart medication to baby cribs. Health Canada not only ensures that vaccines are safe, it oversees and approves all the drugs and medicines available to Canadians, as well as ensuring food safety, proper labelling, and so on. There’s a lot to distrust—or, as makes considerably more sense, a good reason to trust this remarkable institution.

We hope you can find a measure of relief from the daily onslaught of conflicting information and disinformation via Health Canada. Wishing you and your colleagues and students a healthy and productive new school year.

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