Martine St-Victor: in search of Elvis as Quebec speeds up vaccinations
Just a few weeks ago, the Montreal Canadiens looked like they were missing out on the NHL playoffs. But thanks in particular to the newcomer of the city Cole Caufield – a sort of miracle on the ice – everything now seems possible.
The 20-year-old has all the attributes you usually see in a star-to-be. Part of it is a blessing and, as Caufield will find out if he ever falls into a fit, it is part of a curse, too. Especially in a city where hockey is the untouchable religion, one that will never be the subject of discriminatory government decisions.
A few days ago on my social media platforms, I posted a photo of Elvis Presley, 21. It was 1956 and polio was still a threat around the world. Although the infectious disease was officially declared a threat in the United States in 1946 by then-President Harry Truman, it was not until 1955 that the United States began widespread vaccination against it. A year later, while a guest on the Ed Sullivan show and just before going on stage, Presley was vaccinated against polio, in front of a press corps. And in six months, the vaccination rate of American adolescents has gone from catastrophic to 80%.
As vaccination opens up to younger age groups across the country, we don’t yet know if their response will be as enthusiastic as that of their elders. Will a photo of Minister of Health Christian Dubé being stung have an effect on CEGEP and university students? Will a wave of Generation X vaxxies make millennials rush to the Clic-Santé website to book appointments? Who has the power to convert those who have demonstrated against sanitary measures? Which public figure can convince those who are against vaccination to switch from anti to pro? In short, how do you get the Elvis effect?
Once I posted the picture of the king being vaccinated, the comments were almost immediate. “Get Justin Bieber vaccinated, stat!” “Can we have Celine on this?” But the name that comes up most often? Caufield. And I understand why. It’s like a Hasbro board game, engaging and popular with ages 7 to 77.
Presley was as American as apple pie. The same goes for Caufield. Could the most influential person in Quebec today be an American?