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Column originally published Nov 23, 2021

Covid-19 Vaccination Is Important To Protect Everyone

Question: I am frustrated with the changing pandemic rules, they don’t make sense to me. I work with a crew and have to travel to different worksites. In the truck, we have to wear masks. However, at lunch, we can take them off and sit beside each other. I am not against getting vaccinated, but I don’t like the deadline, otherwise I will lose my job. This vaccine is so new, we don’t know any potential long-term side effects. My wife is fully vaccinated, and our son is turning 5 next month. We are having some heated discussion whether he should be vaccinated or not. I am worried. I know that if I get infected, I can get very sick, and infect the rest of my family, including my elderly parents. What would you advise?


I am glad that you are honest about your feeling, and ask this question before it is too late, before you get sick, or lose your job. Let me put on my infectious diseases hat and explain this to you. I was an infectious disease specialist in US before coming to Canada as a consulting paediatrician.

This Covid-19 virus is unlike any common cold or influenza viruses. It can cause severe pneumonia and kill, not just frail seniors and adults with underlying medical conditions, but also healthy adults and children around the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently announced that more than 5 million people worldwide have been killed. The true number is likely much more; in some countries, many were never tested.

In Canada, our healthcare system has been strained since the beginning of pandemic. Physicians, nurses, and other professionals are exhausted from working overtime, and seeing so many deaths. Although a small proportion of those infected have to be admitted to hospitals and ICUs, but for those who got sick, the illness was life-changing. Some recovered from the acute illness, but have prolonged symptoms that are still unexplained. They are called the long- haulers. Children are admitted to hospitals in increasing numbers. This is not the normal flu that some portrait in social media.

As a former infectious disease specialist, I have followed scientific reports from the very beginning. The burden of disease has shifted from seniors to healthy adults, and now to those unvaccinated adults and children.

This is why vaccination is important, to protect everyone. We are fortunate that effective vaccines were developed, tested, and approved for emergency use so rapidly. This is not because of luck. Scientists have been working around the clock. The mRNA vaccine technology was in development for over a decade.  The regulatory agencies around the world, including Health Canada, monitored the research, and analyzed the data carefully, before approving these vaccines.

I agree that we don’t have long-term safety data. However, we also cannot afford to wait several years before vaccinating everyone. If we allow the virus to spread unchecked, many more will die, and more highly infectious strains will emerge. No doubt this will overwhelm and destroy our healthcare system. Since the beginning of pandemic, many Canadians with other medical conditions have suffered and died because they didn’t receive timely care. Closures and isolation have also devastated many businesses.

All of us have to do our part to reduce the spread of Covid-19 virus. Healthcare is provincial jurisdiction, that is why you see different rules in different provinces. They are changing according to local situation. Wearing masks in truck can reduce the spread of Covid-19 virus inside the cabin. When you sit down to eat, you do have to take off your mask. Our public health officials are doing their best to prevent the spread of virus, not to limit your freedom. The government and employers are trying to encourage workers to get vaccinated, to protect themselves, their coworkers, and their families. It is not about control, it is about public safety. I hope you can see the importance of your decision and get vaccinated to protect yourself and your family, before you get sick or lose your job.

Very soon, your son likely will be eligible for the vaccine. Health Canada has recently approved the Covid-19 vaccine for children. I hope you will get him vaccinated, to protect him and his grandparents.