Letters Jan. 5: Vaccine doses; ignoring restrictions; slow mail; nature's fireworks

Second vaccine dose is vital to efficacy

The release of the COVID-19 vaccines in under one year is nothing short of a miracle. This is our main hope for restoring the physical, mental, social and economic health of our country and the rest of the world affected by this pandemic.

Few vaccines such as the Pfizer and ­Moderna products have 95 per cent efficacy for preventing disease. I would strongly urge all eligible people to get vaccinated when it becomes widely available.

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Provincial health authorities’ decision to delay the second dose, so that more people will get earlier access is unsupported by research.

The 95 per cent efficacy is based on two doses given three to four weeks apart, which is Health Canada’s recommendation.

The published study for the Pfizer vaccine reports the efficacy was only 52 per cent after one dose (New England Journal of Medicine, December 2020) and the unpublished data from Moderna showed 69 per cent efficacy (U.S. Centers for Disease Control) after the first dose.

This is very different than the “upward of 80 per cent efficacy after one dose,” quoted in the Times Colonist. We are also in uncharted waters about whether delaying the second dose, beyond the fourth week, may lower its overall efficacy.

My other concern is that people receiving one dose of vaccine will become complacent, mistakenly thinking they are “over 80 per cent protected” against COVID-19.

I think it behooves everyone, especially those working and in contact with elderly and other vulnerable people, to continue to practice the strictest precautions with distancing, masks and handwashing, until at least one week after they receive their second dose of vaccine.

Ted Rosenberg, MD MSc FRCP(C)

Politicians are not the only stupid ones

Some Canadian elected officials made headlines when provincial government ministers from Quebec, Ontario and Alberta, and an MP from Manitoba all travelled abroad during the Christmas holidays, counter to COVID-19 advisories to stay at home.

In my small circle of acquaintances, pandemic safety precautions were just not on the menu for some of the hoi polloi during the festive season either.

A neighbour emailed that her sister and partner had left Vancouver for sunnier climes in Palm Springs; employed in media and legal professions, both certainly knew about COVID advisories to avoid unnecessary travel.

When calling a friend here on Vancouver Island to wish him the compliments of the season, there was a noisy party at his house, the bubble with his spouse had apparently burst to include others, and house guests from the mainland, too.

Another acquaintance told me that she and her children had received and refused several invitations to parties and sleepovers in her Interior community.

While Vancouver’s anti-maskers rally made headlines on New Year’s Eve, there were similar rallies in several B.C. cities and across the country in recent weeks.

Yet when questioned about scofflaws the provincial health minister and provincial health officer are quick to say that a tiny minority are refusing their simple and sage advice about wearing masks, social distancing and washing hands, etc.

If truth be told, growing numbers of anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers are playing Russian roulette with their own health as well as the well-being of many others.

Huge sacrifices made by health-care professionals and workers at all levels, by everyday heroes such as supermarket and drugstore employees, and by so many who adapted to working from home while tutoring their children during lockdowns, will come to nought if these scofflaws continue with such reckless disregard of simple precautions.

Far too many Canadians seem to be going out of their way to prove that it’s not just politicians who are stupid.

Bernie Smith

Please do not delay the vaccinations

Most of us are anxious to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible. Any delay is unjustified.

I hope those involved in expediting this realize that already overworked doctors and nurses do not necessarily have to be involved.

Pharmacists, lab workers, first responders, retired health-care workers and many others are qualified injectors and can perhaps be tapped to set up inoculation sites in unused gyms, arenas, theatres or auditoriums.

Perhaps even sideless tents in parks or playing fields can be considered.

Let’s get going. Please!

Chris Harker
North Saanich

Protect ancient trees while we still can

Adrian Raeside’s Jan. 2 cartoon hits the nail on the head. I think so many good words are spoken by officials to protect B.C.’s ancient trees but in reality more and more of our irreplaceable giants are sadly destroyed.

This issue relates to the article by Anthony Britneff on Dec. 29 which explained very clearly all the competing forces but concludes with wise words — that forestry laws should be rewritten to take into account: sustainability and conservation, open access to timber, rural local needs and opinions, forestry administration and the will of B.C.’s citizens (and not so much the oligopoly of multinational corporations).

I believe most British Columbians want to maintain our irreplaceable giants as there are so very few remaining. Let this be our New Year’s resolution.

Christine Johnston

Long delays in getting Christmas cards delivered

OK, I send way too many Christmas cards. So, perhaps I’m just seasonally grumpy to be complaining about the postal service at this time of year.

However, to wit: Some of the cards sent to Edmonton (before the pickup deadline) from the Parksville post office on Dec. 7 (not exactly the Christmas rush!) had NOT arrived as of Jan. 1.

It will have taken four full weeks when (if ?) they arrive after the holiday break.

I also sent two cards to Victoria and Langley on Dec. 8. The Victoria card was received eight days later; the Langley card had not arrived as of Christmas.

Gordon Zawaski

Not happy with Knox’s names column

I was looking forward to the Times ­Colonist’s first newspaper of the New Year and then I saw Jack Knox’s article on the top B.C. baby names, which was bad enough but a true disappointment to be situated on the front page.

I suppose that Knox was trying to be amusing, but his article was, in my opinion, rude, arrogant and offensive.

Just where does he get off saying that calling a baby Karen in 2020 was like naming one Adolf after 1945? On what does he base that bit of intelligence?

And likening it also to being served a piece of dung on your manure sandwich? Really? Does the Times Colonist not review articles before publication?

I think an apology is in order.

Launa Palset

It all turns on affection

I align my thoughts (and the title of this letter) with farmer, poet, and eco-activist Wendell Berry’s 2012 book on the critical importance of our interdependence with all lifeforms.

If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it is that we need to sincerely care for each other more, and act on behalf of the health of the collective for greater personal and planetary good.

However, our capacity for care must extend beyond our human relatives toward our more-than-human kin too, if we are serious about change and avoiding further disasters like the one we are slowly emerging from.

This brings me to New Year’s and the prevalence of illegal fireworks in our city. Grievous harm, even death, to birds, small animals and insects has been linked to the loud, harrowing and disorientating bang-bang-bang, and the ultra-bright flares.

I spend the first night comforting my animal companion who, in his distress, cries, paces, salivates, and suffers. Heartbreaking to witness and completely unnecessary.

In an interconnected biosphere, our choices must include consideration and respect for all other life. How might we educate incendiary patho-adolescents to better understand that lighting and blowing stuff up is damaging, not dazzling?

As we find new ways forward in 2021, can we turn this world around by first turning ourselves around through conscious awareness and actions of affection? My wish is that the world’s beauty, the cosmological fireworks displayed freely each and every cloudless night, will at some point be enough and then we can all truly celebrate.

Dr. Hilary Leighton, PhD, RCC
Ecopsychologist, Registered Clinical Counsellor, associate professor

Ringing in the New Year in a local restaurant

Kudos to the many restaurants and pubs who found many creative ways to ring in the New Year in Victoria.

My friend and I decided to visit a local pub early, to support our favourite pub before the last call at 8 p.m.

After leaving one local pub where we were greeted with less enthusiasm than we expected, and certainly did not feel welcome, we walked a block down and entered another social house where, even though we were seniors, were greeted with such warmth, immediately giving us party hats to wear.

We were seated along with younger patrons, feeling totally part of the group. Our visit was brief, having one drink and an appetizer. We just wanted to support our restaurants.

We were just about to leave when our attentive waitress came round with bubbly asking us to stay and celebrate Newfoundland New Year. We felt so included. At 7:30 p.m. we all celebrated – glad that 2021 had arrived in Canada! We were very grateful for our experience in this restaurant.

Other pubs and restaurants I believe took the opportunity to do the same, following the guidelines of Dr. Bonnie Henry, which we applaud.

Victoria’s pubs and restaurants are serving us very well despite the challenges. Thank you all.

Valerie Elliott|

Individualism has a future

Re: “Pursuing happiness, but not at the expense of others,” commentary, Dec. 30.

This commentary was logically paced, eloquently phrased and most importantly, needed to be said! Ahhhh — Individualism need not disappear after all.

Patricia Crichton

There are limits to free decisions

Re: “Pursuing happiness, but not at the expense of others,” commentary, Dec. 30.

John Vincent quotes Ayn Rand: “Every one … has the right to make his own decision, but none has the right to force his decision on the others.”

This position leads to puzzling issues: If I have COVID-19, without symptoms and decide to stand in front of the mall, or visit the mall, this implies that no one has the right to stop me.

I am not forcing my decision on any one; just the possible consequences of my decision.

If I have an infected tooth, does my dentist have the free decision to treat it or not?

If a robber enters my home, I have the free decision to allow him or call the police or attack him, according to Rand.

Was his decision to enter my home and rob me a free one?

Or did it relate to his poverty or his “nature”?

Was my decision about a response a free one or based on the circumstance such as how fit I am, whether I own a gun and whether I oppose violence?

Clearly, only in the abstract world of Rand can “free” decisions be made. Dictators have assumed that they are “free” to make decisions and rule. Consideration of the above makes clear that even they cannot make “free” decisions.

Edwin Daniel

Blame the campers, not the rainfall

Re: “Central Park to close as of Jan.4 for remediation,” Dec. 30.

A correction is required for this misleading statement about Central Park’s condition: “… city staff can remediate the damage caused by heavy rain and flooding on Dec. 22.”

The damage to Central Park is caused by the people using the park as a campsite, not by the rainfall, which is normal for this time of year.

Just like Beacon Hill Park, where numerous abandoned campsites have left “dead zones” caused by the homeless partying, treading over sensitive habitat, storing junk and “chopped” bicycles and using the park as urinals and toilets, the damage is due solely to the homeless who take no responsibility for their actions.

The city taxpayers, including retirees on fixed incomes, will once again have to foot the bill to “remediate” the parks. Unless the city and province take firm action to prevent the return of campers to city parks, then “remediation” will be a recurring financial burden on the majority of the public who will not be able to benefit from the regular and appropriate use of the parks.

With rights, come responsibilities. Unfortunately the homeless only respect the former, not the latter.

Peter Davis


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