This week, I am feeling like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon. I probably look more like one of those cicadas that has spent 17 years underground.
I am two weeks past my second COVID shot so I am about as protected as I can get at the moment. I am also encouraged by Kingston COVID numbers dropping to barely countable and a steady drop happening across Ontario and Canada. We ended last week in Kingston with a case positivity rate in the past 7 days near zero and only 2 unresolved cases in the whole KFLA Health unit area of over 225,000 people. Across Canada over 75% of our adult population are reported as having had one vaccine dose and 20% have completed their regimen with two. This is all great news and something to celebrate.
Hopefully we will continue our upward climb of getting people vaccinated because in addition to following sensible Public Health measures, that is the key to breaking the hold COVID-19 has had on us for months. Canadians are stepping up in droves to be immunized, thereby responsibly protecting themselves and their friends and colleagues. After a very slow start, Canada now leads the world in proportion of the population with at least one dose of a COVID vaccine. We need the enthusiasm for first dose vaccinations to persist into acquiring second shots since complete two-dose immunization is more than twice as effective in protecting against the Delta variant which is catching hold now. Single dose vaccination only provides about 33% coverage for this variant. Regardless of which vaccine you have started with, it is imperative that you complete your full vaccination programme. People who had the A-Z vaccine for a first dose may now be complete their course with one of the m-RNA (Pfizer or Moderna) vaccines. In all likelihood we will all need a booster dose in a few months and this will likely be with an m-RNA vaccine that can be adjusted every once in a while to cover new variant mutations.
Unfortunately, there will still be some folks who decline to participate in the vaccination programme. They will get a free ride because the relative herd immunity that occurs when the rest of us get vaccinated will protect them as well. But their resistance will also put a limit on how far we can get to squash this virus. Ultimately they will likely pay a price for their reticence in that they may not not be able to travel on some public transport, go to some concerts or events or attend at some educational facilities as freely as vaccinated people.
I predict that the summer will be good – with more outdoor activities, a gradual reopening toward indoor options, continued care with regard to masking and hand washing and social distancing where necessary. My guess is that, even if we get a few local surges in virus activity across Canada, the worst is behind us. New variants may arise (it is normal for mutations to occur) but with time, vaccines can be altered to accommodate these changes. Until the whole world gets adequate vaccination coverage there is still a global threat that will continue to disrupt lives and economies worldwide. I have talked with my friends in Kenya where they are having more older or vulnerable people dying without much explanation. They do not have access to COVID testing in rural areas so they have no confirmation that it is COVID. And vaccines are a distant dream for them at the moment.
We are not out of the woods yet but the outlook is much more promising and encouraging that it has been for quite a while. For the next few weeks we must be patient and stay the course to gradual reopening. We are all eager to open up but the mistake Ontario made earlier this year that augmented the third wave numbers was to be too quick to try to resume normalcy and too slow to shut down. We all need to get fully immunized as soon as it is available to us and encourage those around us to do the same. We may need to stay masked for a while when we are in close contact with others indoors or even outdoors if we sense that we are not able to adequately distance particularly with folks who have not yet been able to get their full immunization in order to protect them from infection. Please respect the boundaries that others set regarding interaction. We all have different comfort with potential COVID exposure and some friends may want to remain more cautious than others for a bit longer.
Fully vaccinated people can safely enjoy connecting with others who also have completed their immunization schedule. Let’s enjoy the great Canadian outdoors and safely reconnect with friends and family. If we follow the Public Health guidelines we will soon get back to what might be close to “normal”. I am starting to remember what that felt like. And if feels good!
The next thing on my wish list is to get a much-needed haircut!
I started writing articles about COVID-19 over a year ago when we were not swamped with COVID information. But we are inundated now so I will put my COVID pen down. This will be the last of my COVID articles but I will continue to post about topics that interest me (and hopefully interest you as well.)