A Manitoba Conservative MP who recently refused to reveal his COVID-19 vaccination status said in April he's "not completely sold" on the jab.
Provencher MP Ted Falk made the comments on an episode of Conservative Roundup, a right-wing podcast, in which he spoke about media "fear mongering" over the novel coronavirus and discussed his views on its vaccines.
This week, the Free Press reported Falk is the only Manitoba MP who will not reveal his immunization status. Falk's April comments were first reported Wednesday by left-wing media outlet PressProgress.
"The personal medical information of Canadians is private. As such, MP Falk will not be commenting on any matters related to his personal health," his office wrote Aug. 6.
In the April 28 podcast episode, Falk was asked about the Conservative Party of Canada's election priorities will be, including the economy and vaccine rollout, as examples.
"There's a lot of people that have put a lot of hope in vaccines and the confidence of people, at the moment anyway from a COVID perspective, seems to be if they can just get the vaccine, they feel then they'll be protected and they'll be safe," Falk said, adding the vaccines are "all labeled as experimental."
In September 2020, the federal health minister authorized the importation of COVID-19 vaccines under an interim order. All vaccines approved for use in Canada have gone through three phases of clinical trials, which is standard procedure for any vaccination approval.
"I'm not an anti-vaxxer, but I'm not completely sold on this vaccination," Falk said in April.
As of Aug. 4, 81.7 per cent of eligible Manitobans have had at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, but the uptake has been much lower in some of the public health districts in Falk’s riding.
In Hanover, which borders Steinbach, just 44.8 per cent of people age 12 and up have had one shot. The vaccination rate stands at around 60 per cent in Steinbach and further east in the La Broquerie and Ste. Anne area.
Falk also accused media of fear mongering.
"They have this gory image of a virus with these tentacles and they make it seem really scary, and 24-7 they keep pounding that message out to Canadians: be scared of that little red ball with all the spikes, it's going to kill you — when in fact if you look at the data, the chances of surviving even if you get the virus, if you're under the age of 70 is 99.7 per cent," Falk said.
The latest data show the official, overall COVID-19 death in Canada was 26,683 in more than 1.5 million infections, which equates to about a 98.3 per cent rate of survival — a percentage regularly reported by media.
Falk's office did not respond to a request for comment.