A message from Dr. Kelsey Louie, FNHA Medical Officer and Tla'Amin Nation Citizen
I was both pleased and relieved to receive the COVID-19 vaccine earlier this month. As a physician who works in clinics and hospitals, I am in the high-risk category, so with the vaccination I will be able to breathe a little easier: findings to date show COVID-19 vaccines provide up to 95 per cent protection (seven to 10 days after the second dose).
Although it was a relatively simple decision for me, I acknowledge that vaccine confidence can be challenging among our community members, and I want to honour the historical reasons and trauma that have contributed to this.
With this in mind, I want to reassure you that at the FNHA, we are you, we work for you, and we are here to help -- not harm -- you and all Indigenous people living in BC. Many of our employees, like me, are members of First Nations communities, and I am confident that we aim to place our communities' health and wellness needs and safety at the forefront of any decision we make.
I use my medical training, combined with my trusted public health colleagues' knowledge and expertise, and wholistic understandings of health and wellness, to make informed decisions for my own life. In this case, I gladly chose to receive the vaccine.
My colleague, Dr. Terri Aldred from the Tl'Azt'En Nation, is one of the many other BC physicians who received the COVID-19 vaccine this month. She shared that she felt excited and relieved, as well as emotional: “I felt the good medicine; it was like I was seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I felt hopeful and optimistic. I thought, 'We got this.'"
While I appreciate the opportunity to protect myself, my patients, my family, and my friends, I also know it is my responsibility to continue following public health guidelines and orders. The vaccine helps prime our immune systems to fight off the virus, but it does not make us invincible. We aren't yet sure how long the vaccine's immunity will last or whether it prevents vaccinated people from transmitting COVID-19. So until approximately 70 to 75 per cent of the population has been vaccinated, we will need to keep following all public health guidelines.
As public health doctors, we will continue to learn, monitor and make recommendations based on the best information we have. We will continue to work for our communities, as we want to keep everyone safe and healthy.
I hope you will take the time to get informed about the vaccine and consider joining us in receiving the vaccine when it becomes available to you.
čɛčɛhaθɛč - I thank you,
Dr. Kelsey Louie, MD BSc CCFP