Hurray! It is finally happening.
After one grueling year, more than 290,000 positive cases and over 10, 470 deaths, we have something in our arsenal to help us fight COVID-19.
The recent announcement, of an increase in the number of priority population vaccine recipients, along with the arrival of vaccine doses forecasted to rise dramatically for Quebec in two weeks was a truly bittersweet moment.
However, along with the dramatic growth of the vaccine arsenal came swirling uncertainty. What with Johnson & Johnson, 1shot, 66 % effective, Pfizer /Bio N Tech and Moderna 2 doses 95% effective and U.K based Oxford-Astra Zeneca 2 doses 62 per cent effective.
On February 27, 2020, Quebec confirmed it first case of Covid 19, that of a 41-year-old woman from Montreal who had returned from Iran on the 24th on a flight from Doha, Qatar.
By the end of March, over four and a half thousand cases had been confirmed in all regions of the province.
Following Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine authorization for use in Canada on December 9, 2020, and Moderna vaccine on December 23, 2020, mass vaccination plans began in Quebec, with the first vaccine in Canada given to a Quebec City long term care home resident on December 14, 2020.
Despite its approval by Health Canada for adults of all ages, Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization has said the AstraZeneca vaccine is not recommended for people aged 65 years and over because of insufficient data on its efficacy in older people. On March 8, 2021 notwithstanding such a health caution, Quebec said it will administer the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to seniors.
While the public has been inundated with media stories about the many elderly and the health care professionals, essential workers and vulnerable individuals taking the vaccine, there are still some communities saying,”not so fast”.
Soon the province will reach the point where almost anyone who wants a vaccine can get one. But deep within this statement lies a problem. How many people will take the medicine?
Will political ideology dictate who interprets the vaccine as helpful or a hoax?
Will race or ethnicity define how the vaccine and those that administer it are viewed? Community groups in Montreal are still pressing all levels of government to collect and publicize data on how COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting racialized minorities and low-income residents in the city.
The national and provincial Chief Medical Health Officers do not reflect diversity in any way. As a nation, we could pay a steep price unless more is done to correct these inequities. Blacks have yet to be invited to the table.
You cannot get around the fact that representation matters.
Whether it be in the classrooms, legislature, courts, Stem fields etc. diversity is necessary and often required. One of the two leaders of the team which created the Moderna Covid 19 vaccine, found to be more than 90% effective was Kizzmekia Corbett an African American scientist.
Now more than ever, and especially during a pandemic, it must be demonstrated in the health care arena where almost on a daily basis emergency medical decisions are being made that Blacks are capable of making it to the table.
We must be given a seat when decision makers meet, for those who are not seated at the table would soon find themselves served upon it.
Aleuta—The struggle continues.