But, first, the good news.
My wife Anne and I received our first COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine shot yesterday. We were lucky. The whole process for us was easy-peasy.
For our age group, we were able to pre-register last Saturday on the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit site. Even for a computer-challenged person like me it was relatively easy. We had our appointments scheduled by Tuesday and were in for the vaccine exactly one week after pre-registering.
And I must say here how impressed I am with the local vaccine operation. I walk most weekday mornings at the indoor track at the Summit Centre. The COVID-19 vaccine clinic is now on the arena floor below. I have to get off the track once the clinic opens at 10 a.m., but I have been able to witness the set-up. The whole operation is extremely professional and well thought-out to the smallest detail, team members working well with each other and dedicated to a smooth experience for those getting vaccines.
While there have been line-ups, Anne and I were able to get into the site immediately when our turn came to be vaccinated. We were quickly and efficiently processed through paperwork and questions that had to be answered and were on the arena floor with very little delay.
Both Anne and I were inoculated by physicians, who fully explained what was involved and patiently answered our questions. The entire team of perhaps two dozen people were friendly, helpful, and efficient, each with their appointed tasks to make the process go safely and effiectively. We were in and out of there in well under an hour.
As I said, we were lucky, and I can only hope that our experience is now mirrored across the province. Because it certainly hasn’t been that way until, perhaps, recently. I have heard from a number of people, seniors who were eligible to be vaccinated, who have found the process confusing, frustrating, and time-consuming. For a period of time there was a lack of coordination between the provincial vaccination registration process and that of the local health unit. There may still be. Some people I know have just given up or have gone elsewhere for their shot. Very sad when vaccines are the key to recovery from this pandemic.
One note I got from a person in Bracebridge did make me chuckle in spite of myself. He pre-registered before I did, also on the health unit site, and here is his comment: “Friday night, I decided to pre-register. I managed to do it and can report it was a pain in the ass. The website was absolutely unforgiving about the format… However, we seniors are a stubborn lot and I managed to pre-register in spite of it all.”
The administrator in our physician’s office has been sending out regular updates related to the process for registering for and actually getting vaccines. They have been very helpful. Her latest, a few days ago, included a rant expressing her frustration in attempting to successfully access the system in order to help a patient who was having difficulty in pre-registering. There is not enough room here go into her exasperating experience in attempting this, but suffice it to say.it opened her eyes and showed her what some seniors have gone through.
In my view, there has been a serious disconnect between the provincial registration site and those of local health units, often with conflicting or non-updated information. I will add that the Province has listed a telephone number that one can call if all other efforts to book an appointment fail, and I know of two individuals who have gone that route with immediate success.
But overall, there have been some real difficulties for many eligible people to register and actually receive their vaccine. At a time in this pandemic when vaccines are essential to lower and control the curve, the process needs to be as easy as possible.
Hopefully, many of these issues have been cleared up and there will be smooth sailing ahead. The last thing we need is a complicated or confusing process that discourages people from getting vaccinated.
And now to the part about the guinea pig.
All three COVID-19 vaccines currently in use require two doses. In order to get your first dose, you have to make both appointments. Our appointment for the second dose is July 17, almost four months from now.
This period of time for a second dose is well beyond the recommendations of any of the vaccine manufacturers. In a recent interview, Dr. Mona Nemer, Canada’s chief science advisor, stated emphatically that there is no empirical evidence that a required second vaccine shot can be safely delayed beyond a two-month period. In the words of journalist and former Liberal strategist Warren Kinsella, delaying the second shot for up to four months, is, “an experiment on Canadian lives.”
Those Canadian scientists who have acquiesced to a waiting period of up to four months between vaccine shots are between a rock and a hard place. The problem of course remains a lack of vaccines. We are still, today, ranked 55th in the world when it comes to that. So, for that reason alone, the question has to be asked. Which is more important: to get at least one dose into all Canadians or to ensure that both doses are administered in a timeframe that ensures their efficacy? Under the circumstances, there really wasn’t much choice.
The very kind doctor who gave me my shot on Saturday said she thought there was a good chance that the date we have for our second injection in July will be moved up. I hope she is right. I really don’t like being a guinea pig, especially as it could have been avoided, just as it has been in the rest of the world.
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