Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry poses with Nisha Yunus, who has been a residential care aide with Vancouver Coastal Health for 41 years. Yunus was one of the first health-care workers in B.C. to receive a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. (BC Government photo)

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry poses with Nisha Yunus, who has been a residential care aide with Vancouver Coastal Health for 41 years. Yunus was one of the first health-care workers in B.C. to receive a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. (BC Government photo)

Liam’s Lowdown: I will take the COVID-19 vaccine

British Columbians will get their first doses this month

Canada has signed contracts for accessing more than 400 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, which is enough to vaccinate every Canadian more than a few times over.

Like most people, I do not like needles. I passed out in Grade 9 after getting the meningococcal shot. Nothing was wrong, I just fainted from nerves and excitement. Sigh.

Vaccines are responsible for eradicating multiple diseases in Canada, such as smallpox, polio, rubella and measles.

The World Health Organization estimates at least 10 million deaths were prevented between 2010 and 2015 thanks to inoculations.

Regardless, immunization rates are declining across Canada. In an interview last year with Black Press, Interior Health said there are many reasons for the decrease, including mistrust, personal choice and simply because it’s not a priority.

Not only do vaccinations protect the vaccinated, but they prevent spreading diseases to individuals who cannot be immunized, whether for health or allergy reasons.

One reason why immunization rates are dropping, said Interior Health, is because people believe vaccines are no longer needed. “We’re getting further and further from people who know what it’s like to have diseases like polio,” said Jonathon Spence, manager of the IH communicable disease unit.

Polio is a crippling and deadly infectious disease and infects the brain and spinal cord, causing paralysis.

The vaccines created for COVID-19 were created in less than a year, which is miraculous. Unlike many other vaccines, these new vaccines do not have a live virus that has been weakened or killed, nor a signature viral protein that can dupe cells into producing protective antibodies.

The newly approved Pfizer vaccine relies on messenger RNA (mRNA), a type of genetic material our cells use as an instruction manual to kick off the process of building virus-busting antibodies.

A huge bonus for mRNA vaccines is they only take months to develop instead of years.

The reason we have not had these kind of vaccines before was because scientists struggled to get them into our cells where they could be utilized and not destroyed.

It seems that code has now been cracked.

Pfizer claims their vaccine is more than 90 per cent efficient in protecting people against COVID-19.

Whether it’s effective or not, it all depends on whether people will take it.

Revelstoke has an abysmal immunization rate at 20 per cent below the provincial average, hovering at just 50 per cent for 7-year-olds in 2019, according to Interior Health. It’s estimated more than 70 per cent of Canadians will have to take a COVID-19 vaccination for our nation to achieve herd immunity.

According to a web poll conducted by Black Press with more than 1,200 respondents, only 56 per cent of people said they would take a COVID-19 vaccine.

The Canadian government has a long road ahead to convince people that they need take the vaccine. Nevertheless, I am one out of 38 million Canadians they do not have to worry about. I have had roughly 20 vaccinations in my life and still have good health. Just because it’s new, doesn’t mean it’s bad.

When the times comes, I will go to the clinic, roll up my sleeve, think happy thoughts and take a COVID-19 vaccine.

Because it’s the right thing to do.

Coronavirus