Opinion

Health Care in Hues: The Vaccine Waiting Game

Our latest installment of Health Care in Hues, a monthly feature that uses art to comment on the state of healthcare in Canada.

With the advent of two highly efficacious vaccines in Canada, 2021 began with a ray of optimism, albeit in the midst of a surging second wave. But the rollout of the vaccines has brought about its own challenges.

While many front-facing health-care workers have been prioritized for the vaccines, many others who continue to see COVID-19 patients are still waiting. The first doses were administered in Ontario long-term care homes on Dec. 14 but cases and death counts continue to rise and more than 40 per cent of homes have outbreaks. Most seniors living in the community continue to wait in line, despite being among those at the highest risk. Individuals experiencing homelessness, already marginalized by poverty and a scarcity of resources and safe living spaces, are far from the front of the line for their first doses. Racialized populations find themselves disproportionately represented in COVID-19 case counts and related morbidity – many working essential frontline jobs in precarious circumstances. They are waiting in line as well.

There were concerns over doses sitting unused in fridges during a slow roll-out; more recently, shortages as Pfizer-BioNTech limited supplies while expanding manufacturing capacity; questions regarding optimal and allowable time span between doses; concerns regarding the vaccine’s sustained efficacy against emerging highly transmissible strains.

Looking forward, we must prepare to tackle vaccine hesitancy, ensure efficient vaccine rollouts and keep communities safe with sustained lockdown measures.

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Authors

Arnav Agarwal

Contributor

Arnav Agarwal is an internal medicine resident physician at the University of Toronto and an incoming fellow in general internal medicine at McMaster University. He has parallel interests in clinical epidemiology, narrative writing, medical education and health advocacy.

Pooja Gandhi

Contributor

Pooja Gandhi is a speech and language pathologist and PhD candidate at the University of Toronto. Passionate about graphic medicine and an artist by her second calling, Pooja is co-developer of the Health Care in Hues series, focused on bringing narratives and perspectives from the pandemic to life through graphic medicine.

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