By Lethbridge Herald Opinion on May 14, 2021.
Better days are ahead – and although I am not one for clichÃ© or hyperbole – I strongly believe this right now.
When the COVID-19 pandemic started over a year ago, nobody thought we would be where we are today. That said, I fully realize the previous statement could be interpreted from a variety of angles and I understand that many of you aren’t feeling very positive at the moment.
There’s no doubt about the fact that this pandemic has been incredibly draining and disheartening on a variety of fronts. We’ve all been challenged in ways we’d probably never expected to be challenged.
However, in my opinion, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Population immunity through vaccination and natural herd immunity are starting to make a difference, as well as the efforts of so many to slow the spread by limiting social interactions and following health guidelines.
There are also positive indications that our vaccine rollout and approach has saved lives by prioritizing our seniors and most vulnerable as the first to receive vaccinations.
This strategy has resulted in over 76 per cent of seniors aged 75 and older now being fully immunized, as well as high numbers of our front-line health care workers, respiratory therapists and staff in long-term care homes. These groups have seen the most dramatic reduction in serious impacts and deaths from COVID.
As a direct result of this, on May 10, 2021, some visiting restrictions in congregate living facilities across Alberta were eased, meaning that each resident can now identify up to four designated family or support people as visitors.
I think this was an exciting step, as supporting our seniors is extremely important right now. Being a vulnerable group to COVID-19 has made protecting them necessary, yet difficult, loneliness and isolation have been huge factors for them in the last year. I am happy that we can ease these restrictions and am looking forward to the near future when we can do so even more substantially.
Despite the challenges with federal supply, we’ve also been able to distribute these vaccines en masse – and globally, distribution started at the end of 2020, a year earlier than our best estimates at the time.
As I said before, better days are ahead for all of us. Alberta’s vaccine rollout has been highly effective in protecting our most vulnerable and is now available to nearly every Albertan.
Amongst the provinces, we’ve consistently been in the top ranks for vaccinations administered since they became available last December.
The effort put into Alberta’s distribution has been worth it and the evidence is in the numbers – almost 2,000,000 first doses have been administered, supply is finally stabilizing and we have systems in place to see the roll-out continue efficiently and effectively.
Regardless of how each individual may feel about vaccinations, we live in a democratic society and the freedom of the individual is something our government deeply values. Whether you choose to receive the vaccine or not, it comes down to personal choice and I will fight for the right of each individual to make that choice for themselves. We are almost at the end of this and I am encouraged to see how far we have come.