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Column originally published Aug 31, 2021

Vaccination And Precautions Are Essential Against Delta Variant Of Covid-19

Question: Our eight-month-old daughter was born two months early. She was on a ventilator for two weeks. We are lucky that she didn’t have any serious complication. She is doing well now, bringing so much joy to our family. I was terrified of contracting Covid-19 during pregnancy. We are glad that we got our second dose of Covid-19 vaccine last month, to protect us and our daughter, as well as our parents. Most of our friends are getting the vaccine as well. However, one of my best friends refused to get vaccinated. She said that she doesn’t trust the vaccine, they were not tested adequately, and government approved them too quickly. I am hesitant to invite her to our home, or to interact with her. I wonder what we should do.


I am glad to hear that your daughter has done well in spite of prematurity and requiring ventilator support. As a retired paediatrician, I have looked after many premature babies; most of them did well, but some had complications. Because she was on a ventilator, she is at higher risk of developing serious complications if she has Covid-19 infection.

You have made the right decision to receive the vaccine when it became available to you. They are very safe, with rare serious side effects. Ongoing research has shown that they are very effective in preventing serious illness and complications from Covid-19 infection. However, it doesn’t mean that you cannot get infected, especially with the delta-variant that is leading the fourth wave of pandemic in Canada right now.

Scientists have long predicted this 4th wave if we lower our guards and reduce precautions against the spread of Covid-19 virus. We have just emerged from the terrifying third wave, when hospitals and ICUs were overfilled with sick and dying patients. Some provinces had to fly critically ill patients to other regions or provinces. Increased precautions combined with massive vaccination campaigns brought the outbreak under control rather quickly, may be too quickly.

In the last month, we have seen provinces started to reduce precautions that alarmed health professionals. Doctors were signing petitions against some of these measures. As predicted, the 4th wave began, partly due to the delta- variant, and partly due to relaxed precautions. It is now obvious that this delta- variant is much more infectious than all previous variants; even fully vaccinated people can be infected, and spread the virus to others. What is different is that most of the fully vaccinated don’t get very sick, and they rarely die. This wave is mostly caused by those who are unvaccinated.

At the present time, the vaccines are approved for 12 years of age and over. Those under 12 cannot get the vaccine; research is ongoing to prove that they are equally safe and effective for younger children. With school beginning in a few weeks, and with relaxed rules, we will likely see outbreaks in schools across the country.

Since the beginning of pandemic, relatively few children were infected, and even fewer died. This was because of all the pandemic measures: masks, distancing, lock downs, school closure, and online learning. However, with the delta-variant, many Children’s Hospitals in United States are filling up with sick children; some require ventilator support. The same will happen in Canada if we don’t do more to protect our children.

The best way is to ensure everyone receives Covid-19 vaccine timely. Every person not vaccinated poses a risk to those around him or her. Some may believe that by being careful with whom they meet, they won’t get sick even if they are not vaccinated. The truth is that even those without risk factors can get very sick and die. The greater danger for unvaccinated people is that they can spread the virus unknowingly to their loved ones. This can be their parents, their children, and their friends.

Scientists initially thought that we can achieve herd immunity if 70-80 percent of the population gets vaccinated; the virus will stop spreading, and life can return to normal. We now know that those who were infected with Covid-19 virus before can get reinfected with this delta-variant; vaccinated people can also get infected. The delta-variant changed the dynamics completely. We need everyone vaccinated, even those who were infected before. We need the whole world immunized to prevent spread of Covid-19 virus. Otherwise, new and more infectious variants will emerge.

I hope your friend will recognize that she is putting others around her at risk by not getting vaccinated. Your daughter is at high risk, you need to protect her by reducing the number of people that your family interacts with. You should continue all pandemic precautions, including wearing masks indoor, physical distancing, and good hand hygiene.