You’ve seen the headlines: “Canada leads the world in administering first-doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.” It’s a remarkable accomplishment, and we should be proud.
Our success wouldn’t be possible without the dedicated and hardworking front-line staff who’ve done an excellent job educating the public, administering doses and getting themselves inoculated in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.
With the fourth wave now upon us, it is the efforts of front-line workers that will continue to protect Ontarians. At OPSEU/SEFPO, we are honoured to represent thousands of them.
But while vaccination rates in Ontario are looking good – with more than 80 per cent of eligible people having received their first dose, and more than 70 per cent fully vaccinated – we can do even better.
Front-line staff continue to work flat out to make sure of it. Their efforts are just as important now, as ever. With a concerning rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in the last week, Ontarians are shuddering at the idea of another shutdown; they don’t want to go through the kinds of lockdowns and restrictions we had in the first three waves – especially with a new school year approaching.
Ontarians want a return to some semblance of normal. Our best way to minimize the impact of this fourth wave, and get through it, is to increase our vaccination rates in every neighbourhood, community, village and town. And our front-line workers are going above and beyond to make that happen.
Despite their exhaustion and frustration, they are keeping up, to keep us safe; to keep our already-overstretched hospitals from overflowing and our ICU beds open.
We must all do our part to overcome this crisis, once and for all.
So, if we want to reduce the severity of outbreaks, waves and lockdowns, we must continue to support and encourage every person who is eligible to get vaccinated. We must ensure that shots are available to everyone, no matter where they live – people’s lives depend on it.
Of course, there are exemptions. Some folks can’t get vaccinated due to their medical conditions, age and other valid reasons. But that’s why it’s so important that the rest of us do; to protect the most vulnerable – to protect those who can’t. With the rise of the deadly Delta variant, and now, a fourth wave, every unvaccinated Ontarian is at risk.
For those who survive, thousands are left with long-term, and possibly lifelong, complications – everything from dizziness to depression to organ damage. The list is long, and it keeps growing.
We are so thankful to our front-line staff for their heroic efforts, and proud that Canada continues to lead the world in administering doses, but as the fourth wave surges, we must do even better.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas