Goertzen favours grassroots appeal on vaccine debate

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MANITOBA’S new premier says individuals need to convince reluctant neighbours to get vaccinated against COVID-19, and dial down divisive rhetoric.

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This article was published 02/09/2021 (397 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

MANITOBA’S new premier says individuals need to convince reluctant neighbours to get vaccinated against COVID-19, and dial down divisive rhetoric.

“We have to be careful, sometimes, that we don’t turn vaccine hesitancy into vaccine hostility,” Premier Kelvin Goertzen told reporters Wednesday.

Goertzen said he’s seen friendships pulled apart over social media fights over COVID-19 vaccines, and worries about certain communities, such as Mennonites, being stigmatized.

“How we approach it can’t be simply by shouting at somebody or going on Facebook and getting into an argument,” he said. “I’ve gotten many messages from people who will, frankly, never be my friend again.”

The new Tory premier (who was sworn in Wednesday, following the resignation of Brian Pallister) defended his government’s vaccination mandate, saying an exemption for people who agree to do frequent COVID-19 tests is a reasonable compromise.

Goertzen noted given the majority of Manitobans have been vaccinated, but suggested top-down messaging from the government can only go so far.

“It’s really about that community member to community member, and friend to talking to friend, because we’re at that rate,” he said, adding some people will never get a shot.

“I’ve given up on trying to make everyone agree.”

— Dylan Robertson

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