CHRISTMAS IS JUST a couple of days away, but in some ways, it has already arrived here in Kamloops. Yesterday (Dec. 22), the first person in Kamloops received a COVID-19 vaccine.
Kelsey Medhurst, a healthcare worker at a long term care facility, was first in line for the vaccine here in Kamloops. Across B.C., the first 4,000 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine are going to workers like Medhurst in long-term care homes and other frontline workers treating COVID-19 patients.
With the start of the vaccine rollout, there is light at the end of the tunnel. It seems foretelling that as the days start to get longer, and the darkest day of the year is behind us, the vaccine has arrived in Kamloops.
Every day, there will be more light. Every day, more people will be protected from COVID-19, and with their protection, others will be protected as well.
The real gift of the first vaccine in Kamloops is not that our city is suddenly safe from COVID-19, but that in having healthcare workers receiving it, the most vulnerable will be kept safer.
And not just that the vulnerable are safe. The arrival of the vaccine in Kamloops gives hope that families can again more freely spend time with their loved ones in long term care.
Frequently, I’ve known people in long term care whose spouses and their children visited them daily. Their families would help with their meals, and their personal care. They would spend time visiting. But over the last nine months, the COVID-19 lockdown has severely restricted access of family members to see their loved ones in long term care. It’s been a lonely, isolating time for residents of long term care.
There is light at the end of the tunnel, especially for residents of long term care.
But if there is light at the end of the tunnel, then we are still in the tunnel.
Now is not the time to let our guard down. In recent weeks, there have been COVID-19 cases or exposures at construction sites, other work places, and schools across Kamloops. COVID-19 is lurking in our community. Just this week, I was notified that someone I know was at a business that had COVID-19 present. COVID-19 is lurking around us.
There are about five million people in B.C.. By March 2021, authorities estimate 380,000 will be immunized. Enough immunizations to hopefully keep the most vulnerable of us safe, but not enough to keep us all safe.
For now, it won’t be the miracles of modern science and vaccines that will help us keep each other safe as a community, but the basics. Social distancing, washing hands, and wearing masks are still what’s required.
And, most importantly, what will keep us safe, is our collective will to be there for each other. Whether getting a vaccine, wearing a mask, washing hands or social distancing, we’re telling each other we’re there for each other.
We have passed the darkest day of the year, but there are many days ahead before the brightest day. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and collectively, we’re walking the last mile towards it together.
Merry Christmas, the best of the season, and may the New Year be better.
Nancy Bepple is a former City councillor of Kamloops with a strong interest in community building projects.