Heather Hunter February’21

A Shot In The Arm

By Heather Hunter

Everyone would agree with the decision to give the first COVID vaccine shots to Health Care Workers and Long Term Care staff. These brave souls look the virus in the face every day. LTC residents need to be protected from people coming from outside who are the source of transmission since the patients themselves do not leave the premises. If all staff and visitors were vaccinated and thus not carriers, the residents wouldn’t contract the virus. Most senior citizens in the general population are retired and therefore not obligated to go out except for essentials; they respect authority and comply with the rules. So, are the elderly most at risk or are other age groups in greater jeopardy and in more need of immediate protection?

Was the government’s decision to give priority to LTC residents an indication of genuine concern, atonement for decades of shameful neglect, or a political decision, done for the optics at press conferences? Is there method to their madness? The elderly are most likely to be hospitalized with the disease adding to the burden of an already overloaded system. Perhaps the decision to inoculate the elderly before other groups was made primarily to protect the health care system for all. Hopefully LTC will not be forgotten again after the mayhem dies down.

When asked about giving priority to the prison population, Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s top Heath Care Officer, hedged a bit simply saying that she is concerned about people who are “vulnerable due to congregate settings.” To be safe, will the prison population have to stay in their cells, basically in solitary confinement, like other people in society who live alone?

The greatest transmission of the virus occurs in people between the ages of 29 to 50 years, not because they are out partying, but because they are out in public working and shopping, sometimes for those who should not. From an economic point of view, working people, especially those facing the public each day, are paying the bulk of the taxes which support those who cannot work. Shouldn’t the most exposed sector be given priority and inoculated first? It can be argued that they have a better prognosis when infected; however, illness will take them out of the workforce for an extended period of time collecting benefits. Long haulers may be left disabled for the rest of their (working) lives. Society will suffer greatly from their loss.

It is the teachers, the nation’s babysitters, who enable parents to continue to work at home or at the office. This age group keeps the economy going. Each day teachers interact closely with groups of children who may be masked but are not physically distanced due to large numbers in small classrooms. Teachers and their assistants have long periods of exposure in crowded conditions on a daily basis in poorly ventilated areas, the very conditions the World Health Organization warns against. Aren’t teachers essential workers at high risk? Shouldn’t they be among the very first to be vaccinated to allow schools to stay open? From a purely economic point of view, it would make sense.

Many people are confused about restrictions which vary between provinces and even adjacent local regions, sometimes changing daily. To stay sane, can people who live alone join another household to socialize from time to time or has that ruling changed? Have our bubbles burst? Press conferences tend to be vague and repetitive. Now, more than ever, to have trust in the powers that be, the public needs to know the logic behind decisions, if only to overcome vaccine hesitancy…. A whole other topic.


~ Editors Note; Heather Hunter is a retired school teacher living in Cliffside. The opinions expressed are her own.