Yukon letters

This week’s mailbox: Questions about COVID-19

Questions lingering around COVID-19

Dr. Ranade the new CMOH indicated that Yukon is a highly vaccinated population and that the disease is milder in such a population.

But hang on a minute. Many Yukon’s have had 2 doses of the vaccine (89 per cent for the first dose and 86 per cent for the second) which used to be the gold standard for “fully vaccinated.” However, it no longer is.

Medical specialists tell us that immunity wanes over time and that the 1st booster (3rd shot) is now necessary. Yukon’s uptake of the 3rd shot is 54 per cent which is poor and nothing seems to have been done to change this.

Minister McPhee’s mantra about “encouraging vaccination” is sounding very hollow and is no substitute for a plan to help Yukon’s understand why a third dose is necessary and how it protects against severe disease.

The poorest uptake for the booster is among younger adults (18 – 59); less than 40 to 60 per cent have had the shot. This is the age group that is out and about, not only at work but also frequenting those palaces of pleasure known as bars which at one stage (when we got the information) were a hotbed of infection.

Has anybody tried to find out why uptake is so low in this group and how to “encourage” them to get the shot. Maybe Minister McPhee could show up to the bars and offer lollipops!

And now on to “the plan.” Dr. Ranade indicated that he would be reviewing the [Yukon government’s] plan from March 2021, Forging Ahead. That’s the plan that’s not really a plan because it contains nothing but banal generality.

Banal generalities are the stock in trade of governments that don’t want to be accountable. Attainment of vague goals is hard to evaluate. For example, Pillar 2 of that plan — vaccination — rests on the generality of “the more people who get vaccinated, the safer the territory will be.”

Can you get less specific (and hence unmeasurable) than that!

Minister McPhee’s “encouragement” hasn’t had much of an impact — so what’s next? Encouragement from Dr. Ranade? from Premier Silver? Definitely time to change the channel.

So, Dr. Ranade, take the advice of your colleague from Montreal, Dr. Christopher Labros. Dr. Labros is a cardiologist and an epidemiologist; he say “our response has to match the reality on the ground.”

So far, the Yukon government is responding like an ostrich to the reality on the ground — the 7th wave sweeping across the country and no end in sight to mutations and more waves of illness.

So, Dr. Ranade, the next plan must have clear, potentially obtainable and measurable goals and detailed steps the government will take to attain those goals. Anything less is merely wasting time.

Where should the doctor start?

At the beginning of Covid, the Yukon government promised a plan to educate Yukoners. There has never been a public health campaign about the disease and how vaccinations work to combat it.

In the face of wave number 7 and predicted future waves, the public needs education about the disease and specifically, what behavioural changes are needed to manage it long term.

As I’ve written previously, the approach to different segments of our society will need to be targeted and different.

It is clear (at least to many health professionals) that we really need to come to grips with how we are all potentially hosts for the mutations that will exacerbate these waves and what we must do to prevent the transmission of infection.

Janet Webster

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