When it comes to vaccinating Haliburton County residents against COVID-19, public health must not only follow all provinciallymandated guidelines but must also be transparent so there is no opportunity for members of the public to cast aspersions on the rollout.
There have been grumblings among the masses about a perceived clandestine clinic operating out of the Pinestone Resort and Conference Centre. We received one letter from a reader complaining it was done under the radar with no public announcements.
He was not wrong as we have only had official word this week about so-called popup clinics, including at places such as the Pinestone.
This led the letter writer and others to speculate. While surely for frontline workers, they heard of non-frontline workers being vaccinated, including two retirees and two in their 40s who weren’t even residents.
Others grumbled upon hearing bank workers were getting the jab and employees of some social service agencies.
Unfortunately, it is the type of speculation that will occur when health officials are not completely transparent about what is going on locally. There are accusations of queue jumping, and questioning local officials.
Other stories of some local seniors being offered appointments in Peterborough, Lindsay and Bracebridge are concerning.
It’s a tough one. Local health officials are in a flux position. They are making plans that are literally changing all of the time. Informed about a batch of expiring vaccines, they have made quick calls to volunteer firefighters for example. Some get a call about availability and are vaccinated within a few hours. Publicly advertising what they are doing isn’t always front and centre in their minds.
In a similar vein, likely no one predicted the backlash that would occur over the announcement that the A.J. LaRue Arena in Haliburton would be used as a vaccination clinic from March to September. However, youth proponents quickly said this was not a good idea. With ice out it meant a delayed start to the Highland Storm Minor Hockey Association season and threated Hockey Haven’s summer camp. Why not use the Haliburton Legion they asked. In the end, Dysart et al listened to the concerns, spoke with the health unit, and scaled back the clinic dates so as not to be so disruptive of the summer ice season. They will find an alternate location.
While we implore public health to do its best to anticipate public reaction and factor that into its decision-making, we also appeal to the public to be patient.
Public health officials are making decisions dayby-day based on circumstances largely out of their control. They are doing their best to get needles in arms in hopes of having all of us vaccinated by the end of summer. They are not sitting about scheming how they can get their friends and family vaccinated before everyone else.
Under the leadership of acting medical officer of health, Dr. Ian Gemmill, the health unit has done a very good job of getting its message across. Gemmill has hosted public forms and holds a media briefing once a week. It’s the best press access we have had in my time with The Highlander.
We encourage the public to go to him and other trusted sources to get their information, including mainstream media locally, rather than riding the rumour train and confusing fact with Facebook.
It’s been a very long year for all of us and once again we have to pull together for the betterment of the community.