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Lethbridge MP wants unvaccinated to be 'respected, appreciated' in the community

Lethbridge MP Rachael Thomas said during a Facebook live that vaccinated people are more likely to be hospitalized for COVID-19 than the unvaccinated. (Facebook) Lethbridge MP Rachael Thomas said during a Facebook live that vaccinated people are more likely to be hospitalized for COVID-19 than the unvaccinated. (Facebook)
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Lethbridge Conservative MP Rachael Thomas is facing questions after suggesting vaccinated people are more likely to be hospitalized for COVID-19 than the unvaccinated.

The comments came in a video posted on social media where she also defends those who choose to not get the shot.

Thomas turned to Facebook recently to share her views on vaccines, and while some residents seem to support her positions, her comments aren't sitting well with others.

“We see that the number of people who are coming down with COVID-19 and even being admitted to the hospital, or actually the number of vaccinated, sorry, the number of fully vaccinated is actually greater than the number of those who are not vaccinated,” said Thomas during a Facebook live posted to her account on Dec. 16.

According to the Alberta Government, as of Tuesday, 69 people were in ICU with COVID-19 and of those, 55, or 80 per cent were unvaccinated.

Infectious disease expert Dr. Craig Jenne says data shows vaccines remain a critical tool to limiting serious cases of the virus.

"Right now in the province of Alberta we see approximately two-thirds of those hospitalized are unvaccinated, keeping in mind they only represent less than one-fifth of the general public, it shows exactly how protective vaccines are,” said Jenne.

During the Facebook live, Thomas also defended those who choose to not get vaccinated saying; “They’re losing their voice and their credibility. They are losing any sort of respect or appreciation within the community.”

She also says rapid testing is a better alternative to vaccines.

“What I find interesting is actually, if they were tested on a daily basis, they’re actually safer than those who are vaccinated because we know science shows that even if you’re fully vaccinated, you can still carry the virus and you can still transfer it to another individual,” said Thomas.

Jenne countered that “Rapid testing is an important tool and can make environments safer but it is not a replacement."

"A rapid test represent a specific moment in time and that can change even by the end of the day," he said.

"If you were previously infected and asymptomatic and have not developed enough viral load yet to test positive, by the end of the day or the next day you may now be infectious to others. Rapid tests are only feasible if they are used regularly.”

Thomas isn't the first Conservative MP to make questionable comments about the pandemic. MP Marilyn Gladu criticized vaccine mandates and questioned the severity of the virus. She was later chastised by leader Erin O'Toole.

Political watchers say controversial comments from individual MPs can hurt a party's image.

“If you’re going to be an alternative in voter’s minds, you have to provide credible alternatives and leadership in these areas," said Lori Williams, a political scientist at Mount Royal University. "So this hurts not just the party in general terms, it raises questions about the leader and the leaders inability to bring his caucus members on side."

CTV News reached out to Thomas’ office and the Conservative Party for comment and clarification on the video, but have not heard back.

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