- Anne Finlay-Stewart, Editor

Facebook was full of dozens of retired and semi-retired folks from Owen Sound who were able to accept the available Covid appointments in Hanover, Collingwood and beyond yesterday. Because they had their own computer and car, did not need childcare and did not have to take an unpaid day off work, they were jumping on the opportunity.

Delighted as I am to see my friends and neighbours getting their COVID vaccination, I am fully aware that they are also the ones that have had the privilege, often including money, of keeping  themselves safely isolated through the past year. Driving a private car, staying home, social and family Zooms.

Who did NOT get their vaccination?

Essential workers -  those with children, people who share elevators in high rises before they get on public transit to go to their jobs in retail, warehousing, logistics. Those who need to live with roommates or family members to afford rent. Those who are being exposed directly and indirectly to many others - who may or may not be following protocols - on a daily basis.

Those who have no sick days, so every precautionary day off while they go for a covid test, or wait for a covid test or to see if the symptoms persist costs them money. Money they need to pay for the same essentials we ask them to risk their health to provide for us. And no, Mr. Ford, those are not all covered by the federal government.

I am afraid of Covid too. I'm old and fat and likely would not do well if I got it. But I would gladly have given up my vaccine, as would my husband, and stayed in my own home isolation for a few more weeks and months, if it would have been given to essential workers, especially in the places of greatest risk.  Because as long as it is circulating there, the pandemic and all its costs and risks, remains. 

To bring it full circle to those same retired folk who were vaccinated, those costs include delays in medical procedures and surgeries, early discharge from hospitals, diffculty in finding and keeping staff for Long-Term Care and Homecare. Temporary closure of services and permanent closure of some of our local small businesses.  Increased requests from our local charities as demand for food and housing programs rises.  And increased need for tax funding of evictions, mental health services, and income replacements, at the same time as tax revenue is falling.

vaccinestickerWhy has the system continued to be age based, even when we were past the most vulnerable group?  One possible explanation is that those over 55 are most likely to vote.  Yesterday's crowd in Hanover looked much like the line-up at your average polling booth - middle class, almost exclusively white and late-middle age.

While they have a science advisory table, the Ontario government bet that its medium and worst-case forecast of ICU occupancy would not be reached, and did not pull the "emergency brake" until the best-case scenario had been exceeded.  Not until younger people were being admitted, and patients were being transported as much as three hours out of their home communities for intensive care, was the emergency declared.

The Owen Sound vaccination centre is in the meeting rooms at the Bayshore because the arena floor still contains a field hospital.  As Ontario case numbers grow, that hospital may yet be put to use. In the meantime, although we have the largest population in Grey-Bruce, our vaccination capacity is lower than some of our neighbours, and the Ontario "portal" is sending our residents to those centres.

Those here and elsewhere without private cars or who can't book on-line or make appointments during the work day, even those in the appropriate age or health categories, continue to wait. Continue to do their essential jobs. The Premier berates them in his press conferences for not having booked an appointment.

Revel in your "sticker status".  But  recognize that it is, itself, a privilege.









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