It was a case of good news and bad news as the calendar finally flipped to January and the year 2021 began.
Yes, Christmas celebrations were different than in years past, and there were more than a few empty chairs where family and friends usually sat during the holidays. But, overall, people did whatever they had to in order to enjoy the holiday season and make it as special as they could for the young ones to enjoy.
And, after all, isn’t celebrating the birth of the saviour and making it an oh-so-special time for the kids what Christmas is really all about?
Although the spectre of Covid-19 continues to hover above our everyday lives, there was much to celebrate and be grateful for this Christmas season with Arviat, Rankin Inlet and Whale Cove having pushed back the invader and the Kivalliq joined the rest of Nunavut in being Covid-free, at least for the time being.
There was also much to be grateful for with the arrival of the Moderna vaccine against Covid, which will begin to be administered in Arviat tomorrow, Jan. 14.
Hopefully, the vaccine’s arrival does in fact make it a whole new ball game as Nunavut Health Minister Lorne Kusugak proclaimed upon its arrival into the territory.
Ah, but there’s the rub when it comes to the bad news.
Too many people continue to express fear over being inoculated against Covid-19, and impromptu surveys across our region are showing almost as many people are against receiving the vaccine as are eagerly awaiting its arrival in their community.
And there is certainly no lack of posts by individuals across social media that they will not be extending an arm, or any other appendage, when the vaccine is being administered in each of the Kivalliq’s seven communities.
Make no mistake about it, it is not mandatory for anyone to receive this vaccine, but, given Covid’s ability to spread at an alarming rate — and the fact they’re still finding new strains of the virus — is it time those leading the way in our territory should consider it?
Or, if our leaders at the territorial, provincial or national levels don’t have the stomach for such a move, is it time we start hearing what the penalties are going to be for those who refuse to be inoculated against Covid-19.
Let’s be honest here, the most insidious thing about this darn virus is that people strong enough to ward it off with little to no symptoms often pass it off to those who end-up having serious long-term health problems often referred to as post-Covid-19 syndrome or long Covid-19. And, ever so sadly, they also pass it to those who succumb to the virus and die from its effects.
For too long the virus spread across this great nation of ours and the vast, vast majority of those flagrantly thumbing their noses at all who followed government directives went without penalty.
And no one will ever know how many of these people spread the virus to those who succumbed.
It’s time we get back to a normal way of life in this country and the odds are incredibly high that we’re not going to be able to do that without the time-proven tag team of herd immunity and vaccine.
Herd immunity makes it possible to protect the population from a disease, including those who can’t be vaccinated, such as newborns or those who have compromised immune systems.
Vaccines and the concept of herd immunity are what successfully controlled deadly contagious diseases such as smallpox, polio, diphtheria and rubella.
It’s not perfect. It isn’t yet clear if infection with the Covid-19 virus makes a person immune to future infection, and further research is needed to determine the protective effect of antibodies to the virus in those who have been infected.
However, it’s crucial to slow the spread of the Covid-19 virus, if nothing else, before even more elderly folks and people with underlying health conditions of any age pass away, or are left to suffer long-term health effects as a result of their exposure.
If too many among us refuse the vaccine to make it effective, and more people die as a result, it just may be time to look at whose rights are paramount to be upheld.