Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry poses with Nisha Yunus, who has been a residential care aide with Vancouver Coastal Health for 41 years. Yunus was one of the first health-care workers in B.C. to receive a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. (BC Government photo)

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry poses with Nisha Yunus, who has been a residential care aide with Vancouver Coastal Health for 41 years. Yunus was one of the first health-care workers in B.C. to receive a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. (BC Government photo)

Column: Seeing a light at the end of the tunnel

Opening Our Eyes by Nan Dickie

For 10 months we, and the rest of the world, have been going through a very dark time.

We are about to go through the darkest night of the year soon, quite literally.

But finally, after these many months of increasing darkness, there is a light at the end of this long, dark tunnel.

And for once this year, it isn’t the blaring light of another locomotive barrelling towards us. That locomotive’s light is actually the darkness in disguise, representing the suffering and deaths of millions of people, the relentless spread of the dreaded corona virus, over-crowding in hospitals, medical staff and care providers on the brink of exhaustion, losses of millions of jobs, an increase in opioid addictions and all types of mental duress.

The new, positive light at the end of the tunnel is the Pfizer vaccine, which is being rolled out across the world and in our province this week. Hopefully, other vaccines will be approved and distributed world-wide before long too.

This is indeed marvellous news. These vaccines were manufactured, tested, peer-reviewed and approved in very short order, with the immense effort of dozens of pharmaceutical companies across the globe. The safety and efficacy of the two leading vaccines have been proven with tens of thousands of trials.

We have become almost totally absorbed in the promise and delivery of vaccines. In our excitement, it’s easy to overlook the harsh fact that we are nowhere near to being out of the woods of the pandemic. In fact, it is worsening daily.

Read more: Front-line workers named Canada’s Newsmaker of the Year by editors

Read more: ‘Feels like a dream came true’: Health-care workers receive COVID vaccine in B.C.

Some people see the vaccine as a panacea that will eradicate the virus in short order. That leads some to decide that we can, almost immediately when immunization gets going, relax our crucial practices of keeping the virus at bay.

This would be a very serious mistake.

Just as the days will soon be longer – by a mere three minutes or so a day – providing us with a bit more light each precious day, so too will it take time for vaccines to lighten the devastating effects of the virus.

Now the holiday season is upon us, we are reminded to stringently avoid the three Cs: closed spaces with poor ventilation, crowded places where many people gather, and close contact situations where we cannot keep two metres apart.

But we are tired, we are frustrated. We want to be with friends and loved-ones indoors at this usually joyous time, and have a fun – especially when a vaccine is on our doorstep.

However, we must persevere a good while longer with the measures we have been adhering to for months, and some for only weeks. During this ongoing pandemic darkness, we each have an opportunity to be a light, by continuing to do what we know we must do.

There truly is a light at the end of this long tunnel, but we still have to get through the tunnel to receive its full positive effect.

Nan Dickie is a Salmon Arm writer and speaker who facilitated a depression support group for seven years in that community.

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