A message from Dr. Shannon McDonald, Acting Chief Medical Officer
Now that the FNHA is starting to roll out second-dose vaccination clinics, many people are wondering whether they can return to their previous lives.
Unfortunately, the answer at this time is, “No, not yet." Remember, no vaccines provide 100 per cent protection. You can still get sick, even after receiving a vaccine, although vaccines do greatly reduce the chance of hospitalization and death from COVID-19. So getting the first and even the second dose will not change what we need to do. But please remain hopeful; that time will come.
You may ask whether it is worth getting the second dose if restrictions are going to continue anyway. The answer is, “Yes, absolutely." The second dose provides you with much better protection from getting ill, and for a longer period of time. It also decreases the chance that you will unknowingly transmit the virus to others. As we break chains of transmission, we will be able to return to more normal ways of living.
Why can't we return to normal yet?
It's hard to be patient when you're mostly protected. It's also hard to be patient when you've done your part to stop transmission. But stopping pandemics is a community effort, and we still need more people to get vaccinated to slow the spread of the virus.
Right now, we're trying to keep our public health and hospital systems running so that everyone can continue to get care when they need it. Not only patients with COVID-19, but also people with cancers, or those who live in pain every day because they're waiting for a hip replacement or other issues.
Public health officials are not only following up on many cases of illness, we're also vaccinating people as quickly as possible. Until vaccine rates are higher, we need to keep safe people who aren't yet protected by the vaccine – those who can't be vaccinated, others who got the vaccine but didn't get full protection, and those who are anxious about the vaccine. As well, COVID-19 vaccines are not quite yet available for children under the age of 18 in BC. There's some welcome and exciting news, however—youth aged 12 and over will soon be able to get protected through the Pfizer vaccine. This pandemic has been especially tough for young people.
You can help. Be a champion for vaccines, listen to and support friends and neighbours who have not been vaccinated, and share your reasons for doing so. Encourage them to speak with their doctor or to seek reliable health information online. Share FNHA stories of people championing vaccines with them, including on your social media. Continue to follow public health orders, i.e., physical distance, wear a mask, wash your hands frequently, etc. Be the change you want to see – do your part to “show the way" to overcome this pandemic.
Things are looking up: last week we passed the mark of an astonishing one billion vaccines having been administered around the world. In BC it's more than two million vaccines, with over 91,000 of these taken up by First Nations people in BC. What's more, second-dose clinics and additional opportunities for first doses are coming. Soon, all adults in BC will be eligible for a vaccine.
Case rates in BC, including in BC First Nations, are declining – and with the upcoming opportunities for more people to get vaccinated, there is hope on the horizon.
Do you have other questions about COVID-19 vaccines? Visit our COVID-19 vaccine FAQs page, which provides up-to-date information and links to other resources.