Getting Through the Fourth Wave
By Debbie Ciccotelli, Vice President, Strategic Initiatives
The fourth wave of COVID-19 that public health experts warned us about for months has arrived and it is being referred to as the ‘pandemic of the unvaccinated”. Each wave of the COVID-19 pandemic raises different levels of public health and personal challenges. Public health authorities have indicated that the highly contagious Delta Variant is driving the fourth wave and that they are seeing an increase in numbers, which is mostly amongst the unvaccinated. The Delta variant has prolonged the pandemic, made daily life more difficult to navigate and has turned back the clock on our collective plans to return to a relatively normal life. Experts unanimously agree that people who aren’t vaccinated — including children under 12, are most at risk in this wave of the pandemic.
The good news is that millions of Canadians have now been vaccinated. As of September 16, 2021, provinces and territories have administered over 54 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, with the latest data indicating that over 85% of people aged 12 years or older have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine and over 79% are now fully vaccinated. Evidence demonstrates that full vaccination (2 doses) combined with continued public health measures provides substantial protection. As we head into the fall, it will be important to have as many eligible people as possible fully vaccinated as quickly as possible to protect ourselves and others, including those with compromised immune systems or children who are not eligible – especially as cases rise within younger populations. Because children can’t be vaccinated, it’s especially important that those around them are. It is important to ensure that information related to covid-19 vaccines comes from a reliable source, therefore please see the link to the government of Canada article https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19/vaccines.html
What Can We Do?
- Get vaccinated – protect yourself and others
- Be aware of risks associated with different settings
- Wear face masks indoors – properly worn face masks are your best defense against the virus
- Continue to wear a mask in busy outdoor areas like campgrounds, playgrounds and dog parks
- Maintain social distancing – Health Canada still encourages us to minimize close contact with others.
- Keep hands and surfaces clean
- If you feel sick, even with just a sore throat, you should stay home and self-isolate if you have symptoms
- Continue to avoid non-essential travel
- Socialize outdoors whenever possible
- Avoid crowded indoor spaces with poor ventilation —especially with the unvaccinated.
Take Care of Your Mental and Physical
- Adjusting your expectations based on what is in your control
- Have a backup plan if something is not available (school/daycare, gym, etc.)
- Take advantage of nice weather and spend time outdoors
- Acknowledge that pandemic fatigue is real and make use of our EAP (LifeWorks program) if you are experiencing mental health concerns like anxiety, stress, or depression
Collectively, our actions can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep our families, friends, and co-workers safe. As the pandemic drags on through a fourth, intense wave, front line hospital staff are running on empty tanks, and we owe it to them to take precautionary measures and make it through this wave without overburdening our healthcare system.