With the holiday season upon us, our efforts to protect each other from the pandemic need to double.
As the current Covid-19 wave recedes, it may be tempting to throw our masks off and collectively shout for joy as we appear to have weathered the largest outbreak the Beaufort Delta has seen yet.
The fact we’ve managed to get through this without any deaths is a cause for celebration. But we also need to be realistic — the potential for another outbreak in Yellowknife is already apparent with the exposure at Mildred Hall school. Down the road from us, the Yukon continues to struggle with an ongoing outbreak that has seen two people die in the last month.
Beyond this, we have the latest evolution of Covid-19, the Omicron variant, at our doorstep already. While cases appear to be dropping overall as more people get their vaccines, there are still plenty of vulnerable people who aren’t vaccinated who could be in the cross hairs of this new variant.
Getting vaccinated remains the most effective way to get the world back to normal. Vaccinations rid the world of smallpox and have nearly eradicated polio — Covid-19 is no different. And while most people have only learned of mRNA vaccines in the last year, the medicine has been in development for a long time. The Covid-19 vaccines were simply adapted from vaccines currently being researched to use mRNA to fight cancer.
But, even if we’re vaccinated we can still carry the virus in our body and breath. This is likely how new variants are getting here, since under most circumstances you cannot enter Canada without being fully vaccinated. It’s also why when there are Covid-19 exposures, we still have to have lock down and reduced contacts, and why wearing a mask is important when indoors. It’s also why many governments are looking at requiring vaccinations to use their facilities — the liability of being the place where someone catches and dies of avoidable Covid-19 is far too great.
It’s been well documented that it is entirely possible to still catch Covid-19 if fully vaccinated. However, it’s also been well documented that vaccinated Covid-19 patients don’t typically have the life-threatening symptoms the unvaccinated go through, nor do they seem to have lingering health problems from the damage the virus can wreck on people.
Amid all the arguments about freedom versus the common good, this is a major element in the Covid-19 story that’s been largely overlooked — many unvaccinated people who contract severe Covid-19 go on to have further debilitating health problems. The most high profile of these is myocarditis — a heart condition that has put the careers of numerous pro-athletes including two Edmonton Oilers on indefinite hold and may have ended them entirely. Other Covid-19 survivors are reporting severe lung damage, seizures, even brain damage. Surviving Covid-19 can be like surviving a motor vehicle accident — you’re alive but you’re never the same again.
For all these reasons, we need to stay diligent during the holidays. We all want to have a semi-normal Sunrise Festival again in January. To get there, we need to be smart now.
The Christmas spirit isn’t going to protect us from Covid-19. We have to do that ourselves.