SUBMITTED BY THE LADY MINTO HOSPITAL MEDICAL STAFF ASSOCIATION
Thanksgiving gives us the opportunity to reflect on all the things we have to be grateful for. One of these is the fact the Salt Spring has so far been spared the worst impacts of the COVID pandemic.
However, we have not been immune to the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID) virus in our community. In fact, as the fourth wave of the pandemic has swept across B.C., September saw the highest number of confirmed cases of COVID on the island and already in October, we are seeing higher numbers of confirmed cases than previously. The Delta variant of COVID is proving to be much more easily transmissible with lower level of exposure and causes severe illness with lower levels of virus exposure than the original “wild type” COVID virus that was circulating this time last year.
Fortunately, the mRNA and viral vector vaccines are proving to provide high levels of protection against severe illness from the Delta variant, including hospitalization and ICU admission. They also decrease the amount of virus present and duration of ability to spread the virus to others in vaccinated people who do still catch the virus. In order to prevent serious illness and death, to prevent overwhelming our local health care services, and to limit the spread of the virus amongst family and friends, we urge all eligible people to get vaccinated if you have not already done so. The vaccines are safe, effective and a key component of the overall strategy to end the pandemic and return to normal life.
Since the vaccines do not offer 100 per cent immunity for individuals, and with the increasing number of cases on the island, it is crucial that we do not allow ourselves to become complacent and ignore the other control measures. We still need to wear an effective mask covering both nose and mouth at all times in public spaces to avoid spreading or inhaling viral particles, maintain physical distance from others to avoid coming into contact with viral particles, limit the size of gatherings (including family gatherings over Thanksgiving) to limit the number of people potentially exposed to the virus, and continue frequent hand washing to reduce contamination of surfaces and the spread of all viruses, including influenza and other respiratory viruses. If you have symptoms, including symptoms that you might otherwise think are a cold, get a COVID test, since vaccinated people may only have minor symptoms. And if you are ill, and especially if you have a positive COVID test, maintain self-isolation.
If we all keep going with these measures, and encourage our friends and neighbours to get vaccinated if they have not already done so, we will get through this pandemic. As your physicians, we want you to stay safe and healthy. We also want to be able to provide you with the care you need in the event of illness or accident and to have facilities, staff and equipment available if and when you need care.