Premier François Legault's proposed "unvaxxed tax" has been met with support, opposition and now, alternatives. The Médecins québécois pour le régime publique (MQRP), a group of 500 doctors, residents and medical students, have laid out six ways they say the Quebec government can increase vaccination rates without imposing a tax on the unvaccinated.
Their first suggestion is to make the vaccine available in more private and community spaces and without the need for a RAMQ card, such as "in community centres, shelters, places of worship, in people's homes, etc." This would allow people to be vaccinated easily, without a change in their daily routine.
According to the MQRP, community organizations should also have access to funding for local vaccination initiatives.
Next, the MQRP recommends offering the vaccine alongside other health care services, such as in family physicians' offices and the CLSC network. "Professionals who already have a trusting relationship with unvaccinated patients must be able to offer on-site vaccination as soon as the time is right."
Their fourth recommendation is to provide phone and in-person appointments for vaccine-hesitant people to have their questions and concerns addressed in an anonymous and non-judgmental environment. This is in line with the Quebec government's new pro-vaccination initiatives that were laid out on Monday.
The MQRP says inclusive, multilingual awareness campaigns with different literacy levels in mind are also needed.
Lastly, the MQRP suggests that those seeking to discuss vaccination with their unvaccinated loved ones should be provided "tools, guidance, and support."
The MQRP has been vocally opposed to an unvaxxed tax, citing long-term problems in the health care system that predate the pandemic.
"By the time the pandemic hit Quebec, we were already seeing how stretched the health care system was, following many years of austerity and centralization reforms," the MQRP explained in their release on January 12.
"The last 30 years of erratic management and chronic public underfunding of health care, which have led to difficult working conditions for health care workers, staff shortages and service disruptions, cannot be used as an argument for imposing such a [tax]. Blaming the current problems in the health care system on the unvaccinated population is a dubious shortcut."
"In other words, a better-supported system would be able to more easily care for a population with 88% immunization coverage."
Health Canada has a robust website with all the latest information on COVID-19 vaccines and can answer any questions you may have.
This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.