Monday, May 17, 2021

Risk Assessment


This morning I parked at the shopping mall and walked up the hill to the cancer clinic for my appointment.

The type of cancer I have is not considered curable, so I visit the clinic every six months for a check up, see how I'm doing, if I'm still in a very unexpected (but very welcome) remission.  Or not.

Since my cancer is of the immune system, the B cells the vaccine is trying to educate to recognize covid, the risk of my catching covid and surviving it is...not good.  My immune system just doesn't work very well and so my efforts to avoid getting in the cross hairs of the virus have been pretty stringent.

As soon as I was able, I got the first shot, and even though I'm well past the two week date of that first shot, I am well aware that my immune system doesn't work well, and I will continue to isolate and wear a mask if if need to go out.

The good news is that my remission continues.  For how long?  No one knows.  I wasn't supposed to have this time of grace from it, but I do, and I'm grateful.

The news about covid is disconcerting on so many levels.  Yes, here in BC things are improving, but not every province.  Yes, Canada is getting vaccines, for which I'm grateful, but many countries are not.  Everyone needs to get a vaccination in order to roll this virus back and make things safer for the world.

While I completely understand that some people have found wearing a mask difficult, it is the front line of protection.  As such, I will not stop wearing one for a considerable amount of time.  I want to see actual herd immunity develop, not just 'nearly' there.  60% vaccinated is not considered herd immunity - that means 4 out of 10 people are not protected by a vaccine and that's just too many for my compromised immune system to risk.

People are always very concerned about themselves.  That's just human nature.  But we also need to be concerned about the rest of humanity.  Already over 3 million people around the world have died due to covid - and it is reasonable to assume that the official number is well below the actual number.  Some statisticians are saying the number is more likely double that, and some are saying it is even higher.

As many survivors are dealing with long haul symptoms, the number of people taken out of the work force is much higher.  There is now significant data to say that some people with long covid are also dying within months of 'recovering' from the initial infection.  So expect the death toll to go even higher.

When I talked to the nurse practitioner at the clinic this morning, we agreed that people need to be wearing masks for a lot longer.  In fact she was double masked and had a face shield.  Something I appreciated as she sees a lot of patients through the day, nearly all of them with compromised immune systems.

We talked about our reluctance to travel long distances for the foreseeable future.  Because while covid might be starting to come down in Canada, this IS a pandemic and there are many countries that will be dealing with it for months to come.

I was relieved to hear that Mr. Biden has promised to begin shipping 'excess' vaccines to other countries and I hope that Mr. Trudeau will also ensure that any unused AZ vaccines in Canada go to other countries.  We have the enormous privilege to pick and choose from a variety of vaccines - something that is unheard of in medical history.  And we got them in record breaking time.  The mRNA vaccines appear to be working well, even on variants.  But the sooner the growth - and the mutations - stop, the better off we will ALL be.

So I suggest to people who are fully vaccinated - before you begin planning vacations to exotic places, make sure that those exotic locations are ALSO fully vaccinated.  

Stay home until the pandemic is actually over, not just in your country.  Wear a mask when you go out until actual herd immunity as been reached.  Gather carefully in small groups, in well ventilated spaces, physically distant, for short periods of time.  Get the vaccine.

Stay safe.  Stay well.  Stay covid aware.


Peg Cherre said...

I wish I thought differently-more generously?-about this, but I fear the repercussions of the CDC guidance about masks not being needed for those fully vaccinated (in most situations). I believe that the people who don’t WANT to be vaccinated, whatever their reasons, are, overwhelmingly the same people who don’t wear masks. Who want life to ‘get back to normal.’ I fear this will be bad. So I will continue to limit my activity and my contacts and to wear my mask in public.

Laura Fry said...

I agree, the recommendation should not have been made until herd immunity was reached.

Jane McLellan said...

I have had my vaccinations, but here in Zimbabwe everyone is still required to wear a mask away from home(even alone in your car!) which seems sensible to me.

Rachelle said...

Here in New Zealand we've ordered enough vaccines to do more than our country, but I know our government is also supplying several of the South Pacific nations that look to us. I am hoping that they'll give any excess to other places as well, I guess we'll have to wait and see. At the moment we don't have enough in stock to do NZ, let alone everywhere else. Apparently the general population's vaccinations are still a good couple of months away. I'm definitely planning on getting it, my youngest will since he's still a minor, eldest is an adult now so it's his choice, but I'm hoping he'll get it. Still working on mum, she's not sure but she's at higher risk too, especially of complications. We've been lucky here in NZ so far, life is pretty much normal aside from using the tracking app but if we don't have a high take up of vaccine it won't stay normal.