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Opinion: We can’t just sit around waiting for a COVID-19 vaccine to save us

We must follow the guidance of health officials now to reduce cases because a vaccine is a long ways off
COVID-19 swab in lab. Photo via Getty Images

In February, when celebrating her 100th birthday with her family, my patient, Helen (not her real name) continued to thrive while managing her chronic health conditions.

The pandemic changed all that.

She wasn’t infected with COVID-19. Her assisted living facility made every effort to protect its residents. However, this meant an end to all social activities and visitors.

By June, I learned of Helen’s profound functional decline. She had lost weight, fell frequently and was no longer able to stand on her own. Her daughter, an experienced nurse recognized that she was in a potentially irreversible decline.

Once we were able to get approval for weekly visits from her daughter (in full PPE to protect Helen and others at the facility), Helen progressively regained her strength and quality of life.

The pandemic has affected every one of us, but in addition to those infected with COVID-19 and their families, those suffering from social isolation have been the most vulnerable.

We are at a crucial crossroads in this pandemic. With the daily rise in new infections, we each have to double down on our efforts to reduce the spread. We can’t wait for the majority of Canadians to be vaccinated. Many more will become sick and die in the coming months.

Continue to keep your distance, wear a mask when you can’t, keep your hands clean and ask yourself whenever you leave your home, if you really need to. Is it worth the risk to yourself and your family?

In the meantime, we must work together to maintain our physical, social and emotional wellbeing. We can’t do this alone.

Your family physician’s clinic is still open – at least to calls. Don’t neglect chronic conditions and proactive healthcare. Labs and X-ray clinics are also still open. We’ve all made changes to provide the care you need while reducing your infection risks.

If you haven’t had your flu shot yet and your local pharmacy or family practice clinic has run out, Burnaby residents can book an appointment with

Stay connected to your family and friends with frequent calls or video chats. Reach out to those who are living alone and ask what you could do to help.

If you are feeling stressed, frustrated, anxious and even depressed, you are not alone. You are not alone in how you are feeling, and there is help in our community for you.

Every community has organized supports for those struggling socially, emotionally and financially. In Burnaby, we’re all working together through the Primary Care Network. Check the resources that are available at

On Dec. 10, I’ll be giving a free online talk on behalf of the Burnaby Division of Family Practice’s Empowering Patients program. The topic: Emotional Wellness. I’ll be sharing key emotional health skills that we all need to manage the effects of this pandemic and community resources for help. For more information:

Dr. Davidicus Wong is a family physician. His Healthwise Column appears regularly in this paper. For more on achieving your positive potential in life, read his blog at