By Sue Tiffin
Last week, I donned a mask, and then another one, and then a face shield, and I walked into another building in this county for the first time in 407 days.
I told the nurse who was administering my first dose of COVID-19 vaccine that I might cry, and because I am hilarious, added that it wasn’t necessarily a side effect of the shot. But in all honesty, it really was – not for the needle part, because like many others I didn’t feel a thing – but for the euphoria in being a part of this particular time in history when a vaccination is available to help us stare down this pandemic, and in being a part of the global collective, co-operative effort to keep others safe.
It was also possibly a touch of giddiness that during the post-shot observation period, I would have 15 minutes to myself for the first time since the Beforetimes while the kids waited in the car with their Dad. Pity the face shield made the book I had brought along too blurry to read.
To date, in the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge district health unit, 64,953 residents have received their first dose of vaccine – almost 40,000 of those in the past month and just over 11,000 in the past week – while 3,548 residents have received their second dose. In Haliburton County specifically, 8,507 people have received their first dose, and 192 people have received both doses.
Much has been said in grief and anger in how the vaccine roll-out has happened, or not, around the world, in Canada, in Ontario, and here at home. We see the lines of people scrambling for pop-up clinics in hotspot areas; we know vulnerable and marginalized populations are not always being prioritized; that global distribution and vaccine access has not been equitable and that besides caring for our fellow humans, we won’t achieve essential herd immunity without about 75 per cent of the population being vaccinated to acquire resistance against COVID-19. We know that locally the lack of supply has closed our mass vaccination clinics this week.
There is much to celebrate, too. This week marks National Immunization Awareness Week in Canada, Vaccination Week in the Americas, and internationally, World Immunization Week. These awareness events celebrate the life-saving work scientists have done to protect people against infection, and reduce the transmission of disease. We can celebrate that for the most part we haven’t had to worry much about diseases that our ancestors lived with and died from. We can celebrate that a malaria vaccine is showing high-level efficacy, a breakthrough against a disease that kills hundreds of thousands of people a year. We can celebrate that it’s been a long 13 months so far, but we have worn masks, distanced or isolated in part to protect our most vulnerable and our essential workers, and we can get the vaccine as soon as we are offered one to continue protecting our community.
Please remember that full vaccination is not in effect until two weeks after a second dose of vaccine and that COVID-19 public health measures should still be implemented even after a second dose. Many, many thanks to the healthcare workers and volunteers and all involved in providing vaccinations in our county. A jab well done.