I know that this has been a challenging time for so many Manitobans. The stress of the pandemic has taken its toll on many families in my constituency and all across Canada. Not only do we feel the stress of worrying for ourselves and our loved ones, our businesses and our careers, missing out on friends and family get-togethers, we feel an added layer of stress due to the length of time in which we’ve been living in a pandemic. There is no doubt that these are challenging times.
I would like to take a moment to remind readers that it’s okay to not be okay. Mental health issues are very serious and there are supports in place should you need them. Please do not hesitate to reach out to friends and family, connect with loved ones and discuss how you are coping. Please do not hesitate to reach out to mental health professionals and get the help that you need. While it may feel challenging to remember at this time, this pandemic will come to an end and there will come a point in which we can gather with friends and family like we once did, when we can celebrate milestones in our communities, and when our lives will return to a sense of normalcy as it had in the pre-pandemic times.
As Doctor Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s Chief Public Health Officer, reminds us often, we are not powerless in this fight against COVID-19. We have tools in our toolbox to protect ourselves and our community. These tools include practicing proper hand hygiene, keeping our physical distance from others, wearing a mask, and importantly, getting a COVID-19 vaccine. The creation of the COVID-19 vaccine is a testament to the power of science. In a relatively short amount of time, scientists around the world were able to find a way to save so many lives. The first, second, and booster shots give Manitobans an extra layer of protection. You’re eligible to get your booster today if: your second dose was six months ago or longer; you are 50 or older, and your second dose was five months ago or longer; or you are 18 or older and live in a First Nations community, and your second dose was five months ago or longer.
The third dose is especially important for people who are at increased risk of serious illness, as well as their caregivers and close contacts. People who are not fully vaccinated are 20 times more likely to end up in the ICU.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 virus has mutated into different strains. This is not a new concept, however, this newer variant, the Omicron variant, is much more contagious than previous variants. The Omicron variant has become the dominant strain in Manitoba and Canada. Learning about each new wave can be challenging on the mental health of Manitobans. I want to again remind everyone of the supports available. Please check out https://www.gov.mb.ca/covid19/bewell/index.html for more information on the provincial resources at your fingertips.
While this latest wave may be discouraging, we are not powerless in this fight against the pandemic. The COVID-19 vaccine is our best tool to protect ourselves and our community as a whole. If you haven’t already received your first and second dose, please book your vaccine today. If you’re already double vaxxed, now is the time to get your booster. The COVID-19 booster is yet another layer of protection in this fight. To find out where you can receive your first, second, or third dose, check out the government of Manitoba website at protectmb.ca/booster/.
By following all public health guidance, we can protect our hospitals and health care professionals. Remember to stay home when you’re feeling unwell and be sure to get your flu shot.
If you or someone you know is feeling hesitant about getting their first, second, or third shot, I encourage you to reach out to your primary care physician. Health care practitioners should be your resource for factual health information. As we continue on with this pandemic, please be kind to one another. Wash your hands, wear a mask, limit your close contacts, and remember to take care of your mental health. Always stay home when you are unwell. Remember that the vaccine plays a critical role in this fight against COVID-19.
Hon. Myrna Driedger is MLA for Roblin and Speaker of the Legislative Assembly.