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Column: Even with vaccine roll out, pandemic requires onging diligence

Opening Our Eyes by Nan Dickie

Each new chapter seems to come with good news and bad news.

First the good news: More than four million Canadians have been vaccinated at least once for the virus.

That is about 12 per cent of the population. Most of those vaccinated are the elderly and frontline workers, and this is gratifying.

But it’s just the start. Still to come are shots in the arm for the other 88 per cent of us.

Then the bad news: The variants of the virus are spreading even more quickly than the original one. People are getting sicker with the variants, are hospitalized more, many of whom are or have been in ICUs.

The demographic of those catching the virus now has shifted drastically.

Thankfully, incidences of the illness have abated greatly among the elderly and frontline workers. Now much younger people are catching and transmitting the virus.

Unfortunately, some people have become complacent about the safety measures provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has asked, even implored, us to follow.

It’s too simple and naive to think, “The vaccine is here. Millions of people have had their first shot. I don’t need to be as diligent as before. We’re heading to the end of this pandemic.”

Read more: Column: Overcoming worry by focusing on the now

Read more: Column: Making a choice for hope and optimism

We have a long way to go to be finished with this pandemic.

Yes, more people are being vaccinated each week. Yes, more people are catching the variants of the virus than the original one.

Yes, we continue to experience COVID-19 fatigue. Yes, we are frustrated that we still can’t spend face time with our friends (though we can Face Time).

Yes, we are running out of patience.

Yes, we may be facing a third wave.

We in B.C. are now allowed to gather outside in groups of 10. How tempting it is to spend this time together in a more relaxed way, forgetting the necessary physical distancing, and getting too close to another person.

How tempting it is to think, “Just this once I won’t follow orders.”

We need to stop in our tracks. We need to come to a balanced perspective about the present state of the pandemic, to balance our optimism about the future, when most Canadians will have been vaccinated, with recognizing the present reality of increasing numbers of people getting COVID-19.

It feels like we have been waiting forever for vaccines to be available.

We need to acknowledge that they were developed, tested and distributed in an amazingly short time since the virus first appeared a year ago.

This marathon is far from over. But, in our fatigue, let us not doubt that this run actually has a finish line.

For now, we need to hunker down a good while longer.

We need to continue to be diligent, patient, to persevere and live up to our responsibility to keep everyone safe, rather than worrying about what we consider to be our “personal rights.”

As Health Minister Adrian Dix continues to tell us, we are all in this together, 100 per cent.

Nan Dickie is a local author, speaker and former facilitator of a Salmon Arm depression support group. She

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