COVID in 2021, Jan Harder


COVID in 2021, Jan Harder

This time last year, I wrote the following.

The year 2020 is finally coming to an end and I think it’s fair to say we are all relieved. This is a year that has brought unexpected challenges to us all. At this time last year, most people were setting new year’s resolutions and hoping for a positive start to 2020. None of us could have predicted or prepared for a year that brought along with it a global health pandemic that has infected millions of people. 

As we end the year, however, we are doing so on a positive note.  Amazing progress is being made on the vaccine front and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said 80 per cent of Canadians who want the vaccine will have it by September 2021. 

We of course are all hoping for a better year in 2021 and we all are craving that sense of normality. We all want to take part in festivals and concerts again and we all want to socialize with our friends and family. The end of this pandemic is in sight and we have learned so much about ourselves and the world as we all went through this together. Little things we used to take for granted like seeing our friends or going to a concert will now be activities we appreciate and enjoy more.

With that being said we are still in the thick of this pandemic and we cannot get complacent. Scientists and health experts have warned us that the darkest days of this pandemic are still to come. By saying this it’s not fear-mongering and it’s something we can easily avoid if we all do our part. Ottawa is currently one of the best cities in the country for beating the virus. As daily COVID case numbers rise in other parts of Ontario and Canada, we have bent the curve and now remain relatively stable. This is thanks to every single Ottawa resident who has done their part by wearing a mask, social distancing from others, avoiding all unnecessary activities, and of course,regular hand washing and sanitizing. Many of these are easy steps that don’t take a lot of effort to achieve. By doing this now we can ensure that 2021 will be more normal of a year. We can also ensure that we keep our loved ones safe. 

We will all get through this pandemic together and we will all be able to come together and celebrate once it’s over. Plans are already in the works for big celebrations in Barrhaven once we can gather as a community again. This holiday season let’s not lose hope and remain optimistic about the new year which is to come because it can be better.

Reading this now has shown that we indeed have made a lot of progress.  Almost 77% of Canadians are fully vaccinated and 82% of Ottawa residents.  As promising as the numbers are, we continue to require caution by wearing a mask, avoiding indoor places with poor ventilation and close contact with large groups of people.  

As we saw already this year with the Delta variant, today the Omicron is causing concern.  The number of positive cases is rising and extra caution is being raised by the Ottawa Public Health.

Although we are not quite back to “normal,” it has been a relief to many to see a return to a “partial-normal.” Gathering with friends and family, attending entertainment venues and having a meal at a restaurant are some of the things that we have been able to enjoy because of the high rates of vaccination.

Children ages 5 to 11, are now the latest group to be eligible for immunization.  Recently outbreaks of Covid-19 have disrupted schools and this is detrimental to children.  Dr. Vera Etches urges us to keep contacts limited especially among the unvaccinated (as not everyone can or is vaccinated) to stop the spread of Covid.  

To end on a more positive note, 40% of children ages 5-11 have put on a brave face and have received their first dose of the vaccine.  To make it easy, OPH is holding after-school clinics.  Dr. Etches states, “I do want to caution that even with this notable progress, we won’t see a significant impact of the vaccines in schools for some time until more of this younger age group is fully vaccinated with two doses – likely in the new year, around February. Let’s keep up this progress, and we’ll get there together.”  It is important to get children immunized as soon as possible.  Maybe then, next year will be a very different one than the last two.