Vaccines: A Personal Perspective

Written by Harold McNeill on September 11th, 2021. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts, Editorials


We are all in this together yet there are some hands missing

1. Introduction 

While Canada continues the struggle against Covid-19, it is gratifying to see how Canadians have come forward to help put this challenge behind us. Unfortunately, pockets of resistance remain and that is likely to push the fight into 2022.

The figures for both Canada and United States suggest the strength of our willingness to fight against Covid-19 largely depends upon our political leaning. While there is no hard and fast rule as to how an individual will respond, there appears to be a clear correlation when viewed from a statewide or province-wide perspective. The stark differences between states within the United States and the entire United States compared to Canada is clear. (Chart 1, below provides the specific numbers)

At a current vaccine rate of 1,400,000 doses per 1,000,000, Canada now sits near the top of the world with vaccine doses administered. By contrast, the United States, a country with early and continuing access to the vaccine supply chains, sits nearly dormant at 1,100,000 per 1,000,000. As of September 10th, Canada has almost 78% of our citizens (12 and older) with two doses and 85% with one (link), while the US is just over 55% for two, and 64% for one. The map above reflects data entered for September 4, 2021.

As one result, the US has the worse outcomes in the world in terms of cases and deaths. Brazil, with a Covid19 denier for a president, runs only slightly behind the US. For the US, a clash in political ideologies is the primarily cause. (see World Map). Continued in 5 parts.

Chart I was created for a quick reference of how Canada and Canadian Provinces are doing vs States in the United States. The chart was created using data from reliable online sources. For the United States, the red numbers indicate Democratic governed states, the blue, Republican governed states. For Canada, red shows left-leaning, blue, right-leaning, and black for non-designated in the three northern territories.   Take a few minutes to digest the numbers, particularly the Cases/100T (Column 5) and Deaths/100T (Column 7) as quick reference.  Continued link below:

Chart 1 Select Covid-19 numbers for Canada and the United States
(Data collected September 1, 2, and 3, 2021)


September 16, 2021 Update:  I recently checked on the cases/100,000 across Canada and it’s
evident the three blue provinces are suffering a tremendous surge in cases while the rest of the provinces have remained relatively stable (chart update on right).  Given Covid hospital admissions and treatment in ICUs are being driven almost entirely by the unvaccinated suggests there is a strong political-leading correlation to this trend. Media reports from the United States suggests a similar correlation exists within the blue vs red states.

2. Vaccines make a difference.

Born in 1941, I am still here because of protection from many diseases that killed thousands of men, women, and children over the past century. Following is a partial list along with the date a vaccine became available: 1796 Smallpox; 1885 Rabies; 1890 Tetanus; 1896; Typhoid Fever; 1906 Tuberculosis; 1923 Diphtheria; 1926 Whooping Cough; 1932 Yellow Fever; 1937 Flu; 1952 Polio; 1963 Measles; 1987 Mumps; 1969 Rubella; 1974. Chickenpox. (Extended Explanation Here)

The above list and other advances in medical cures and preventative measures have provided humanity with all kinds of lifesaving measures. In this, I have not even touched upon the miraculous advancement in other treatments such as antibiotics or the highly toxic drugs and treatments (e.g. radiation) used to combat cancer and other killers such as HIV. Across the spectrum of family and friends, many owe their lives to treatments discovered by dedicated scientists and health specialists worldwide. As a further example, a leading cause of hospital surgical deaths early in the past century was the casual use of sterile techniques like hand washing, sterilizing instruments, PPE, etc. Such preventative measures are now accepted without question.

For those having experienced the loss or severe disability of a loved one who was infected and for which there was no treatment, it was then and is now heartbreaking. In the last several months, millions of people in the United States and hundreds of thousands in Canada have experienced the heartbreak of Covid-19. Getting a vaccine or wearing a mask are such small steps to take to gain some manner of protection for oneself, our loved ones, and friends, and for that matter, why wouldn’t we take these steps to help protect a stranger? Don’t forget, if you wanted to travel to other countries before Covid, many required you show proof of vaccination for one or more infections, including Hepatitis A+B, Typhoid, Meningococcal, Influenza, Yellow Fever Pertussis, and Japanese Encephalitis among others. Lynn and I, along with other family members and friends, have travelled into many of those areas secure in knowing we were vaccinated.

3. Anti-Vaccine Protests: The adverse effects on health care

On the home scene, I recently watched as dozens of people hurled abuse at health care workers at the Kamloops Royal Inland Hospital, where our daughter works in the emergency ward. Royal Inland is just one of the many hospitals where protests are taking place. These hospitals are stretched to the limit, with more unvaccinated people requiring hospital care. Those in serious condition are filling the ICU’s across the country. What a waste of lives! And, why? I don’t think many vocal protesters could give a logical, coherent answer to why they have taken to the streets. (Royal Inland Health Hospital Protests)

At the same time, I acknowledge and accept there will be some not having a valid medical reason yet cannot bring themselves to get vaccinated. This might be the result of a deeply held personal belief or, in some cases, might be due to pressure from family, peers, or other influences. They know this decision may exclude them from performing their job or otherwise accessing certain businesses or events and that may be a steep price to pay. Yet, they have chosen to accept that price and will do so peacefully with due regard for others. We all hope this will be for a short period, at least within our country. 

On the other hand, there is little or no room for discussion with the minority who choose to heap abuse upon others because they think they have had their rights and freedoms taken away. They will do as they please, and the authorities will be left to deal with them. I will add that for those who use a cellphone or have social media accounts on which they often post more abuse, those actions provide thousands of times more intrusion, manipulation and loss of freedoms into their lives than a vaccine shot or vaccine status card. In 2018 I wrote a post about that very subject titled The Changing Landscape of Politics in Canada. In particular, parts 2, 3, and 4 deal with how social media intrusions manifests themselves.

4. Covid-19: The growing political divide

As for the political divisions, you only need to look at the United States. As the fourth wave increases, much of that country including their school system is being thrown into disarray.  Comparing our two countries makes it clear Canada has followed a far more effective path even with our political differences. As a result, our Covid-19 case numbers, hospitalizations, and deaths are far below the United States. Perhaps we escaped some of the turmoil because Canada (across the political spectrum) tends to lean further to the left. (Ref Chart 2, below). In the United States, that division is a hard line at about 50-50.

Chart 2
Canadian Federal Political Parties (2021 Election)
Left/Right Political Divisions

The Peoples Party of Canada was added to the Conservatives, as the party is lead by Maxime Bernier, “a Canadian businessman, lawyer and politician who served as a cabinet minister in the Harper government.”  In 2017, during the convention to replace Harper, Bernier lead the eventual winner Andrew Scheer through 12 rounds of voting, but came in second (with over 49% of the vote) in round 13. The leadership selection process suggested Bernier’s hard-right ideology was supported by a large number of Conservatives and Bernier could just as easily have become the leader.

Because of his leadership loss, in 2018 Bernier broke away from the Conservatives to form the right-wing populist Peoples Party of Canada (PPC).  The PPC now has nearly as many supporters across Canada as does the Block Quebecois in Quebec. Of course, that support won’t translate too many (if any) seats but does indicate the increasing reach of the PPC on the Canadian scene and it does indicate the hard right of the Conservative Party is waiting for their chance. That they are willing to follow Trump tactics is being demonstrated during the current election campaign.

By adding the Liberals, NDP, and Greens on the left, vs the  PPC + Conservatives on the right, the following left/right trend appears across Canada:  BC (63/37), AB (41/59), SK/MB (49/51), ON (60/40) PQ (47/22, plus BQ, 26), Atlantic Canada (66/34).  Dispite these divided loyalties, I don’t think the citizens in any province are less free to choose than those in any other province. Compared to the United States we are a very cohesive and free country.

5. High vaccination rates: The route to a full recovery

Part of the reason Canada has largely escaped a devastating third and fourth waves that have and is engulfing the United States is likely due to Canada’s high rate of vaccination combined with contact tracing, masking and targeted closures. On a smaller scale in Canada, we see the effects of low vaccination rates in Alberta and Saskatchewan, the two provinces most resistant to health protocols. As of September 2021, they now experience the highest rates of infections and hospitalizations in the country. As within all provinces across Canada, the pandemic is now being spread almost entirely among the unvaccinated.

While British Columbia is not far behind Alberta and Saskatchewan, the most significant increase in Covid-19 in BC is within the Central Interior and North, with about 15% of the BC population and half the half Covid-19 infections. Political ideology may play a role, and the fact many Albertan’s travelled to the BC interior this summer may have added a measure of risk. (Covid-19 risks in BC)

As noted in the linked article, when Alberta announced they would only fully re-open when they reached a 70% vaccination rate, the BC government expected that is what they would do. However, they were not even close to reaching that number when they fully opened early this past summer. On September 5, two months later, they had just achieved 66% for one dose and 59% for two. That is lower than all other Provinces and about the same as Saskatchewan (69%/60%). The rates for Alberta and Saskatchewan is even lower than some US States, including Washington, New York, and California.

6. The Struggle within Hospitals

In completing research for numbers in this article and reading news reports from both Canada and the United States, it appears the hospital systems in both countries have managed to cope. However, at the same time, doctors, nurses and other health care professionals have been pushed to the limit. That limit is likely to exist for several months to come as pent-up demand for ongoing services will continue to build until Covid-19 is largely under control. The result is that patients in need of other urgent care cannot enter hospitals, as beds they would generally use are increasingly occupied by the unvaccinated.

A telling side effect of Covid-19 hospitalizations has also occurred in the United States, a country with an overwhelmingly private health care system. While the private system has realized windfall profits over the past 18 months, the public system has struggled for funding.

What happened in the United States is a glaring reminder that Canadian provincial and federal parties must continue fighting to protect our public system. They must also ensure better management of those parts of our system that were privatized over the past several decades (e.g. nursing homes). A recent report in the Globe and Mail outlined the dismal state of affairs in Quebec nursing homes (public and private) during the pandemic. The final report, to be distributed later this fall, must become mandatory reading for anyone who can influence outcomes or, for that matter, any who care about our healthcare system.

7. Other Challenges

There is another side to the pandemic that deserves attention and something about which Canadians should pay attention. Perhaps you are familiar with the Shock Doctrine (The Rise of Disaster Capitalism)? The doctrine “centres on the exploitation of national crises (disasters or upheavals) to establish controversial and questionable policies, while citizens are too distracted (emotionally and physically) to engage and develop an adequate response, and resist effectively.” Over the past half-decade, the United States has faced several disasters, including floods, fires, tornadoes and, over the past eighteen months, a continuing fight against Covid-19.

I first wrote about this in 2019 in an article titled “New Orleans: Peeling Back the Mask” (go to Chapter 3). In summary, after the disaster that was Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana quickly moved to disband all public schools. They replaced these schools with private “Charter Schools” run by contractors. These schools soon became the only option for parents. It only took a few years to see the system favoured the rich over the poor. This was a classic example of disaster capitalism. (Recent background) Further examples have flowed out to the present day.

Following the defeat of the Republicans in the last election, former President Trump spent months creating the myth that the election was stolen. The first result, of course, was the attempted coup at the Whitehouse and the second and even more insidious is an attempt to steal the mid-term elections and possibly the next Presidency. How does it work?

Many republican controlled States have used Trump’s “stolen election” theme to justify redistricting their states in a manner that favours Republican candidates. In Canada, the process was called “gerrymandering.” All levels of government banned the practice some years back (example from BC, Gracies Finger).

In addition, the Republicans have approved the closing or moving polling locations to make it more difficult to vote in Democratic areas. They have also created onerous registration rules and limited mail-in balloting. In Texas, they have gone so far as to legislate the free movement of citizens inside and outside polling areas to “ensure all is fair”. Given that Texas has just passed a new gun law that allows all Texas citizens to carry a concealed weapon without a permit. This ensures that “poll watchers” will be armed and ready to intervene as they see fit.

During this same crisis period, the Texas legislature has rolled back protections that provide women with the right to seek abortion counselling or abortion if that is their decision. The US Supreme Court has let the legislation stand without commenting how the new laws stand in direct contravention of the Roe vs Wade decision. Worse, the Texas legislature crafted the law in a manner that allows private citizens to intervene. (For background on the new laws)

Harold McNeill
September 2021

 

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Comments

  • Harold McNeill

    July 25, 2021 |

    Glad you enjoyed Craig. It was fun researching and writing that particular post. It seems I was in school many years before you, the 1950s to be more precise. Cheers, Harold

  • Craig Patterson

    July 18, 2021 |

    Thank you for sharing this. I grew up in Cold Lake (former town of Grand Centre) and we’d heard many stories over the years. Today I was talking to my Mom about the Kinosoo and I came to this article when I was searching images of the fish — I recall when I was in school in the 80s where was a photo supposedly taken (I think it’s the one of the ice fisherman above).

  • Harold McNeill

    January 15, 2021 |

    Wow, Graham, I was taken by surprise (but then again that’s not too hard). Having all you fine folks (my children by other fathers and mothers) would have been great. I’m hopeful that sometime in the not too distant future, we can reprise that trip. Perhaps we’ll just set aside a time for someone else’s landmark day, and we can surprise them. Love to you two. Harold

  • Graham and Nazanin

    January 15, 2021 |

    How could we miss this historic event my friend!!!
    Nazy and I were booked for that cruise Harold, we were looking so forward to it.
    We will be together soon! We both wish that continued unconditional love you receive from everyone to continue as you are that special someone that makes a difference in this world.
    Happy birthday sir, cheers!

  • Harold McNeill

    January 7, 2021 |

    Glad you found the site and that Dorthy enjoyed. I’ve added a lot of school photos in other locations linked to the High School Years stories. Cheers, Harold

  • Shelley Hamaliuk

    January 2, 2021 |

    Hi there, I am Dorothy Marshall’s (nee Hartman) daughter. Mom was quite excited when she discovered this site while surfing the net yesterday, so excited that she told me to have a look! She quite enjoyed taking a trip down memory and seeing old pictures of herself.Keep up the great work!

  • Harold McNeill

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Rick,
    Great to hear from you and trust all is going well. Our family members are all doing well but it must be pretty tough for a lot of people. I had once heard you were going to do some writing but never heard anything further. I would be most interested, but do you think the OB News have archives back to that time. Any link or information you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Did you keep copies? Regards, Harold

  • Rick Gonder

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Harold
    About 22 years ago I spent several weeks going through the OBPD archives. I wrote several stories that were published in the OB News. Feel free to use if they are of value to what you are doing.
    Keep this up, I’m enjoying it and it brings back memories.

  • Harold McNeill

    April 12, 2020 |

    Hi Susan,

    Glad you had a chance to read. I decided to update these stories by proofreading as there were several grammatical errors in many. Hopefully, many of those glaring errors have been removed.

    Many of the stories carry a considerable amount of social comment regarding the way the criminal justice system is selectively applied. Next up involves a young woman from near Cold Lake, Alberta, who was abducted by an older male from Edmonton. Her story is the story of hundreds of young men and woman who have found themselves alone and without help when being prayed upon unscrupulous predators.

    Cheers, Harold

  • Susan

    April 8, 2020 |

    Great read, Harold!…and really not surprising, sad as that may sound.
    Keep the stories coming, it is fascinating to hear them.
    Love from us out here in the “sticks”, and stay safe from this unknown predator called Covid.