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Voices ᐋ ᐄᔮᔨᐧᒫᓂᐧᐃᒡ

Get vaccinated

BY Maïtée Labrecque-Saganash Dec 30, 2020

This year was surreal. The pandemic made it seem like I existed without really living. The world is still, and even with the first Covid-19 vaccine doses in Canada, we still don’t know when and how we will have access to it. Both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines need to be stored in very cold temperatures and that poses great challenges for remote regions like ours.

I have not seen my father in over a year and the last time I saw my siblings and nephews was in June. The distance between my loved ones and me is heartbreaking, but knowing this is a collective experience makes it seem less lonely. However, I think most of us hope that the situation will soon be under control.

I have seen a lot of misinformation around the two vaccines, mostly that it is not safe because they “skipped trial steps and came up with it in just a few months”. The skipped-trials conspiracy has been debunked many times and the data monitoring is under an independent board. As for the argument that it took just a few months, the whole world was working on the same virus at the same time and both vaccines are mRNA, which are new but not unknown. They have tested this technology for the flu, Zika, cytomegalovirus and rabies.

I’m no expert, so the best I can do right now is to trust the scientists and health authorities. I know as Indigenous people we have many reasons not to trust health authorities because of past events. But if being vaccinated can save lives including my own, I will gladly do so. 

They still don’t know if both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines prevent symptoms from appearing or if they sterilize the virus completely, but if they still don’t know by the time I get vaccinated (which I highly doubt), at least I’ll have a couple more antibodies and proteins in my body. That is the way I see it.

Vaccines are a public health matter. When many people refuse to be vaccinated, we lose the opportunity to significantly slow down and even eradicate some viruses. 

Our flu vaccine rates in Eeyou Istchee are still too low, even if the flu poses great risks to our Elders and people living with underlying conditions, as does Covid-19. The fact that more and more people are not checking trustworthy sources in order to make these crucial decisions makes me panic. Covid-19 has deeply affected people’s mental health worldwide and we have lost many lives. I just want this to stop.

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Maïtée Labrecque-Saganash is Cree from Waswanipi, and is the Nation’s newest columnist. She is an activist and writer who also has a regular column in Montreal’s French Metro Newspaper.