The debate over requiring proof of vaccination at city facilities such as the Fieldhouse and the various amenities at the Multiplex was aptly framed by the Zoom call it took place on.
Councillors who were against segregating – actually, let’s say separating – some Yellowknifers from others at the entrances of our beloved recreation facilities apparently are more comfortable denying all Yellowknifers access to in-person meetings.
Dispensing with the Animal Farm fantasy some of them seem to maintain, all of the science, all the sound evidence points to vaccination as the best and fastest path back to normal: back to hundreds at parks, arenas and pools; back to in-person committee and council meetings, back even to a Remembrance Day ceremony that can welcome everyone.
The jab is not a silver bullet that removes all risk of illness. It’s an arrow in your body’s quiver of immuno-defenses that raises significantly your chances of experiencing a much milder sickness, if not avoiding infection entirely. That could very well mean staying out of the hospital, particularly the intensive care unit, where beds are sometimes in short supply.
The Dungeons and Dragons players who eagerly await Ptarmicon’s first in-person gaming event this weekend at the Multiplex after who-can-remember how long understand this: having both vaccine shots, and even a booster, is like a plus-95 to health.
Look around the party: one of your friends has the Pfizer shot, determined to prevent “severe” disease in 95 to 100 per cent of cases, depending on whether you ask the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For preventing symptomatic Covid-19, its rate is 91.3 per cent.
Another friend is armed with the Moderna-created vaccine, found to be 90 per cent effective in preventing infection and 95 per cent effective in preventing severe illness.
Would you rather have a 95-per-cent chance of success, or a five-per-cent chance?
Public health investigators are racing to trace the origins of the recent outbreak in Tuktoyaktuk — population about 900 — where 37 people are infected and Inuvik — population about 3,300 — is home to another 20 active cases as of Nov. 10. It can’t be repeated enough how connected the communities of the Northwest Territories are.
So if we’re talking about chances, what do you think the chances are that the Beaufort Delta cases are linked somehow to the North Slave, home to more than half of the NWT’s population?
All of this is driven home by the fearsome arsenal Covid-19 brings to the table, which is to say its variants, including the more-deadly and easier-to-transmit Delta variant. Even the name makes it sound like the special forces of disease. As much as we want to waltz back in to the Fieldhouse or the curling club or the arena or the climbing wall unadulterated, the virus has proven itself too crafty and enduring for us to show up for battle without anything but the best possible defence available.
And for now, while the public health emergency in the NWT continues to be extended – we passed 600 days since the first case was detected in the territory this week – setting some conditions for being in public spaces, like requiring proof of vaccination, is reasonable to the 95th percentile.
A genuine and enthusiastic “thank you” is owed to city council for making the right decision.