Squamish COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic
A message from Dr. Nel Wieman, Acting Deputy Chief Medical Officer
Now that more than 77 per cent of BC's adult population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, it may feel like we're close to beating this virus. But the work won't be done until we all get our second dose as well.
It's really important for people to know that the first dose and second dose comprise what is called a “primary series." Both doses are necessary to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
The reason the second dose is so important is because although you do receive a certain amount of protection following the first dose, the second dose actually helps your immune system mount a stronger immune response, and for a longer period of time.
Full vaccination also provides better protection against COVID-19 variants that are now the main source of virus transmission – and that are more contagious than the original virus. The greater the percentage of people vaccinated, the fewer opportunities the virus has to mutate into new variants.
The second dose is like a drumming circle
If you think of drumming circle, sometimes the circle starts off with one person beating the drum and singing on their own. That's like your first dose of protection.
But what happens with the second dose is all those other drummers and singers that are sitting around the circle come in. And with all those voices and drums together, you get the maximum experience of that circle.
It's the same thing with the vaccines. That's why the first and second doses are so important. And we encourage all BC First Nations people to get the second dose when it's offered to them to complete the series.
One thing that has been a little bit confusing for people is the way the second dose has been described as “boosting the effects" of the first dose. That has led people to think the second dose is a “booster shot" when it is not.
It is important to consider that first and second dose as one series that you need to have together to achieve the maximum effectiveness.
The vaccine protects more than just yourself
I think something else that people need to understand is the different levels of protection that the vaccine provides. Not only does it potentially protect you from contracting COVID-19 illness or the serious outcomes associated, including hospitalization, but getting the second dose also reduces the chance that you will unknowingly transmit the virus to others.
When we think about how and why we want to protect the people around us, we think about the people that we care about, our families, our communities, and our Elders.
Part of the reason we're encouraging people to get this second dose is to help all of us achieve what we're calling “community immunity," which means that the levels of COVID-19 transmission within our communities become so low that it no longer passes from person to person.
As Indigenous people, we have been water protectors, we have been land protectors, but in this case, in the case of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are “people protectors."
And getting vaccinated with both the first and then the second dose will give you protection, not just for yourself, but for your family and for your community.
FNHA COVID-19 Vaccines FAQ
First Nations Virtual Doctor of the Day Service
BC Centre for Disease Control
COVID-19: Vaccine safety and side effects