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Constitutional challenge mounted against B.C. vaccine passports

Health issues prevent vaccination, women claim.
Two B.C. women have filed a court challenge against B.C.'s vaccine passport requirement, saying it infringes their constitutional rights | BIV files
A constitutional challenge has been filed in BC Supreme Court challenging the province’s COVID-19 vaccine passport system by two women claiming they cannot receive any vaccines.

The vaccine card orders “require the petitioners to choose between their own physical health and well-being and their civil liberties,” the suit said. “Either choice has negative consequences on their families as well as themselves. The vaccine card orders actively deprive the petitioners of their Charter protected rights and freedoms.”

The suit names B.C.’s attorney general and minister of health as respondents.

Sarah Webb, of both Calgary and Victoria, and Maple Ridge’s Leigh Anne Eliason filed the challenge, saying they have physical disabilities which require a medical exemption from receiving further vaccines.

Webb, 39, works in hotel management, dividing her time between Victoria and Calgary.

The suit said she received the Moderna vaccine on May 2. Six days later, the suit said, she experienced fatigue, cramping, heart arrhythmias, swollen lymph nodes, severe pain, and a rash that engulfed her arm. She went to the hospital and received antibiotics. She returned the next day with complications and was advised she should not receive the second vaccination shot.

“Since receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, Sarah has, on average, multiple times per week, experienced significant and ongoing side-effects of the COVID-19 vaccine including, without limitation, rashes, hives, fatigue, cramping, tachycardia, and other heart arrhythmias,” the suit said.

On Sept. 3, 2021, Sarah’s physician told her to avoid further COVID-19 vaccination no matter the brand or manufacturer.

The suit said Webb, 41, has a difficult medical history including a neuro-vestibular disorder, atrial fibrillation, and Wenckebach Syndrome, a heart condition.

She was eligible for vaccination in April but was advised by her doctor in May that the potential for side effects was significant.

“Leigh was expressly advised by her physician not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, no matter the brand or manufacturer,” the suit said.

The suit asserts both women have medical exemptions from receiving further vaccine injections.

However, the suit said both physicians “expressly raised concerns that neither the government nor any of the provincial medical associations have provided guidelines or information as to how to properly write an exemption.”

It’s these issues that pit the women against the various orders having been issued by B.C’s government.

On Aug. 23, 2021, B.C. Premier John Horgan, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Minister of Health Adrian Dix announced that starting Sept. 13 proof of vaccination would be required for all people attending certain business, social, and recreational settings, and events.

The lawsuit claims statements about the orders “fail to consider the many members of the public, like the petitioners, whose health and physical disabilities preclude them from receiving two injections of the COVID-19 vaccine.”

Further, the suit, filed in court Sept. 23, asserted there exists no data proving that measures akin to the vaccine card have any impact on minimizing the spread of COVID-19.

“Any actual impact on vaccination rates that vaccine passports or the vaccine card orders have has not been studied by the Public Health Agency of Canada to reasonably justify the impairment of fundamental freedoms and rights protected by the Charter,” the suit said.

The actions seek an injunction staying the legal effect or enforcement of the orders pending the outcome of the case or a permanent injunction staying the legal effect of the orders.

Further, it seeks a decision that the orders are unconstitutional.

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