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Letters Oct. 20: Who do we lock up, and why?; debunking vaccine misconceptions

When they get older, we lock them up, no problem Re: “Locking up dangerous people still a no-go despite random attacks,” Les Leyne, Oct. 14.
A resident makes her way down a hallway at a long-term care facility in Laval, Que. A letter-writer suggests that while we don’t hesitate to secure elderly people with dementia for their own safety, the same approach does not necessarily apply to dangerous younger people. RYAN REMIORZ, THE CANADIAN PRESS

When they get older, we lock them up, no problem

Re: “Locking up dangerous people still a no-go despite random attacks,” Les Leyne, Oct. 14.

The aged are regularly housed in facilities when they are no longer able to care for themselves due to cognitive, physical or medical conditions.

If their behaviour poses a risk to themselves or others, they are “locked up” in secure sections, often against their wishes.

Why are younger people with similar issues who cannot properly care for themselves or pose a threat to others treated differently?

Do your “rights” change when you get older?

Elaine Kozak

Healthy living an important lesson

We’ve learned a lot from this pandemic, but one important aspect that has been absent from public-health dialogue is the importance of healthy living as a factor to help combat COVID-19.

There have been numerous scientific studies that link underlying health conditions to poor outcomes from COVID-19. Our society is experiencing an increase in chronic illness that has made us more susceptible to this and future pandemics.

As somebody who was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease three years ago, I experience the consequences of my previous personal health decisions daily.

I have also experienced improved health through positive lifestyle changes focusing on diet, exercise, stress management and sleep.

Vaccinations have been successful in our fight against COVID-19, but we also need to have discussions on how to foster a society that is physically and mentally healthy.

Many doctors are starting to address this issue and have included preventative and lifestyle medicine in their practices.

With focus on making this type of health care accessible, affordable and non-judgmental, we can be better prepared for the next possible pandemic.

Judy Roper

Lack of consequences hurting our social fabric

Re: “COVID limitations are hurting our social lives,” column, Oct. 17.

Lawrie McFarlane submits that, given our fundamental social nature, a collapse in civility (disrespect for one another/law/authority, etc.) is attributable to wearing masks and social distancing as measures to limit COVID.

I offer there may be a more fundamental context for this, one that implicates our elected and institutional “leadership.”

For example, over a number of years the public has witnessed firsthand an erosion of their right fully to feel safe in our streets and public transportation systems.

The “catch and release” of those breaking the law seems to have emerged as a “protocol” of sorts.

If a lawbreaker is back on the street pronto after committing a crime, to the public the perceived consequence is, well, nada.

Similarly, there has been an erosion of the public right to enjoy public park spaces: Long-term tenters have been allowed to abuse public park space often with disregard to any measures and enforcement to seek even minimal compliance to regulations and normal standards of safety and hygiene.

The consequence? Basically nada.

The same “nada” consequence applies also to the ubiquitous protesters who block intersections, roadways, bridges, etc., with some even resorting to spewing their ignorance trying to intimidate front-line health workers, and the many others disregarding measures to contain the COVID pandemic.

McFarlane mentions also the acts of arson of numerous churches. Include if you will the defacing and toppling of public monuments. Perhaps some investigations are yet to be concluded, but thus far, have you heard or read of any consequences?

So, perhaps McFarlane has a point. However, there is much more context to the debate, context that speaks much to the profound absence of leadership and lack of will on the part of elected and institutional “leaders.”

Gordon Zawaski

Don’t pick mushrooms, buy them at the store

Even experts make mistakes in picking mushrooms. The Islander article on mushrooms, inviting people to pick mushrooms, has caused me to write this letter.

In 1984, I was living on Mayne Island. My husband was the doctor for both Mayne and Saturna Islands.

On a day that the doctor had medical clinic on Saturna Island, I was home alone with my five-year-old son. A neighbour came stumbling into the yard and was slurring his words.

I thought the man was drunk and was about to send him home when I overheard him muttering something about “mushroom” (plus other uncomplimentary things about me).

The man was able to communicate in German-accented English that he and his wife had picked a local mushroom and cooked it with their omelet.

His wife was at their house in a coma and he was barely conscious. They thought they were experts at choosing edible mushrooms!

I contacted the Victoria Poison Control Centre and alerted the Mayne Island volunteer ambulance service. The couple were soon on their way to the hospital on Salt Spring Island. Fortunately, they both survived.

Anyone that picks and eats wild mushrooms is taking a huge risk. I buy my mushrooms at the supermarket.

Karen Billett

Don’t demonize them, debunk misconceptions

Re: “Don’t force vaccines on health-care workers,” letters, Oct. 16.

A recent letter against vaccine mandates noted: “Vaccinated individuals can also be infected with COVID-19, carry similar viral loads as the unvaccinated, and also spread the virus.”

This is a textbook example of cherry-picking evidence.

While breakthrough cases do occur among vaccinated people, the evidence shows that rates of infection, transmission, severe illness and death are gruesomely higher among unvaccinated people.

According to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control’s latest COVID data summary, unvaccinated people are 10 times more likely to become a case, 52 times more likely to be hospitalized and 44 times more likely to die.

Moreover, observational studies from several countries show that the risk of asymptomatic infection is 80 to 90 percent lower among the fully vaccinated.

The evidence is clear: unvaccinated people are far, far, far more likely to get COVID and infect others.

People’s freedoms are justifiably limited when their actions expose others to a high risk of harm. Workplace vaccine mandates and proof of vaccination for non-essential services are appropriate temporary safety measures.

That said, it’s also important to recognize that many of the vaccine-hesitant are good people who have sadly fallen victim to misinformation and paranoia.

So while they certainly shouldn’t be allowed to mingle with others at work or in restaurants, they shouldn’t be demonized, either.

Better and more targeted public health communication and outreach are needed to debunk the misconceptions of the vaccine-hesitant.

Graham Briggs


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• Mail: Letters to the editor, Times Colonist, 201-655 Tyee Rd., Victoria, B.C. V9A 6X5

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