It has been just over a year since our world was turned upside down by a tiny virus with a global reach.
This week we learned more details about how we will deliver more than 8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to eligible British Columbians. This is Phase 3 of BC’s Immunization Plan – an ambitious plan that takes into account the medical profession’s considerable expertise, frontline experience, and quite frankly our collective fatigue.
Let me be clear: I have seen all of you rise to this occasion with determination, courage, and grit. Our membership, 14,000 strong, has held the line in our clinics, hospital units, laboratories, and on the public stage. Hundreds of you have joined the ranks of the more than 7,000 retired healthcare professionals who have volunteered for service.
But this fight has taken a toll. I can see it in your eyes, I can hear it in your voices. We are a profession under enormous strain.
We need to keep the healthcare system functioning. This is more important now than ever before. People are still getting cancer, people are still coping with chronic diseases, and people are still experiencing extraordinary challenges with their mental health. On top of that, we now also need to vaccinate the population and put this pandemic behind us. It is a monumental task.
The Phase 3 plan revealed today has three main objectives: vaccinate British Columbians as quickly as possible, maintain control of the COVID-19 pandemic, and protect the healthcare system
If you have been asked to help in delivering vaccinations, we thank you for your valuable service. If you have capacity and want to help out information on how to do so is available here. If no one has reached out yet, it is not because you have been ignored. Those planning the mass vaccination program are aware of how hard you have been working and the burdens placed on you. We hear the stories of burnout and so do they. Everyone values your contribution and wants you to be able to continue caring for your patients without unwanted extra work. We will continue to provide updates to our members about how they can indicate their availability to help out. Keep your ears open in case you are called. Until then take advantage of the opportunity to focus on taking care of your patients and yourselves in what could be a long campaign.
This plan also calls upon other sectors of society, especially those that have been sidelined by pandemic restrictions – such as British Columbians who work in airlines, hospitality, sports and entertainment – to contribute their best to the vaccination effort. They are not being asked to contribute clinically. Rather, their experience in dealing with the public, large crowds, time-sensitive events, and high-pressure situations is being leveraged to make this campaign a collective success. Some of these people, our patients, have been off work for months. Rent has been missed. Mortgages deferred. Lives put on hold. As much as this has been a trying time for us, it has been crushing for them. They need this.
I am hearing from members about the many challenges of this vaccination campaign, a topic I will address more fully in my next blog. This is an enormous and complex undertaking, one that has been organized in a short period of time. Things will not be perfect. However, what I can tell you is that you are being heard. This vaccination plan is conceived and lead by doctors, informed by doctors, and, in many cases, delivered into the arms of patients by doctors. As your representative to government and Public Health officials, I have conveyed how important being part of this campaign is to you. I assure you this has been heard loud and clear. At the same time, we know how hard this year has been on all of us. Other British Columbians, from many walks of life, want to help. This is their home too. Let them show their gratitude by taking a tiny bit of the load off the healthcare sector.
Please continue to share with me your joy, your frustration, and your fears. We are in this together, and Doctors of BC is here to support you. Thank you for everything you do.