As an emergency room doctor, the first half of the pandemic was the most stressful for me because there was no vaccine. I did not know how many times I would be exposed to COVID every day at work. I worried that I would become ill with COVID, or even worse, that I would bring it home and make my wife ill. Even as a healthy 36-year-old, I know that COVID could have put me in the ICU or killed me.
I wear a mask and eye protection at work, I sanitize my hands and social distance every time I’m out. However, as good as these fundamentals are at preventing infection, they’re not perfect, which is why I got vaccinated.
Now that I’ve been vaccinated, I feel safe at work again. I know I’m protected and that I’m protecting others. I became eligible for vaccination on Christmas day, which was the best present I’ve ever received, and I phoned in immediately to book my appointment. I didn’t feel any side effects afterwards. I’m very grateful to all the immunizers at the vaccine site, as well as the thousands of people worldwide who were involved in developing the vaccines, testing the vaccines, and distributing them to the over 1.2 billion people like me who have been lucky enough to get a vaccine into their arm.
I’ve also seen the harms of vaccine misinformation. Most of the people I’ve admitted to Boundary Trails in this 3rd wave were eligible for the vaccine, but chose not to get it. I think they are as much victims of misinformation as they are victims of COVID. They could have prevented hospitalization, and risk of death, by getting a free vaccine that is available to Manitobans. It has been especially sad when I needed to intubate unvaccinated people and send them to ICU, knowing there’s a good chance they will not survive, knowing they could have been saved by a vaccine that was available to them. Honestly, it just feels so tragic.
I ask anyone who is eligible for a vaccine to please get vaccinated as soon as possible. It will protect your family, your community and you! Vaccines are the only way we will get back to normal, reopen businesses, and get people back to work. COVID poses a real and immediate danger, living unvaccinated amidst a pandemic is far riskier than any of the vaccines. Your risk of being seriously harmed by a COVID vaccine is less than your lifetime risk of being struck by lightning. Compare this to COVID, which has already killed over 1,000 Manitobans, and will kill more before it is through.