‘Shame on you,’ says Strang of eligible Nova Scotians who refuse vaccinations and spread misinformation

By Meghan Groff

There is now evidence of limited community spread of COVID-19 in the Halifax-area.

“The cases in HRM are related to an ongoing but stable cluster in a defined population involving mainly children who are not yet able to be vaccinated,” explained Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Robert Strang at a Wednesday briefing.

Health officials also continue to manage outbreaks in the Northern and Western health zones related to a faith-based gathering in late October.

Robert Smith, the pastor of the Gospel Light Baptist Church in Amherst, has been fined $2,422 under the Health Protection Act for the event that took place October 25 to 29.

The Western Zone outbreak is contained, but there continues to be community spread in northern Nova Scotia where secondary transmission is being seen in workplaces, schools, a group home and long-term care facility.

“Most concerning are the deaths of three Nova Scotians, increased hospital admissions and an outbreak at East Cumberland Lodge, all of which are linked back to this initial mutli-day faith gathering,” Strang said.

“I am both angry and frustrated that people chose to not get vaccinated, they gathered with both vaccinated and unvaccinated people against existing rules, and these choices have had significant impacts upon others,” he added. “I understand no one intended for this to happen, but if we give COVID-19 a chance to spread, it will, and as we know, it can be deadly.”

He knows some people believe Nova Scotia's proof-of-vaccination policy and other COVID protocols infringe on their freedoms, “but freedoms come with responsibilities,” he said.

“Your personal freedom has well established ethical and legal boundaries when it creates significant risk to others,” Strang stated. “In a pandemic, we all must do what we can to protect ourselves and one another from this virus, and those responsibilities include getting vaccinated and following public health measures.”

So far, 31 residents and 10 staff members at East Cumberland Lodge have tested positive for COVID-19. Two of those residents have died.

Strang said elderly people, even when vaccinated, are more susceptible to the virus.

The province is in the process of giving out booster shots to those in long-term care facilities, with more than 3,000 already administered.

“A third dose will give … either the same protection most adults get from two doses or boost waning immunity,” Strang explained.

“The impact on the long-term care home has been significant, but without vaccine it would have been much, much worse.”

He reiterated no vaccine is 100 per cent effective and breakthrough cases will occur, however research clearly shows vaccines work by reducing the risk of severe illness, hospitalization and death.

“National and international research shows us when compared to unvaccinated people, fully vaccinated people are 80 per cent less likely to be hospitalized and 66 per cent less likely to die as a result of the virus,” Strang explained.

“The average rate of new COVID cases among unvaccinated people in Canada is seven times higher, and the rate of COVID-19 hospitalization in Canada is 23 times higher for those who are unvaccinated,” he added. “And among people 12 to 59 years of age, unvaccinated people are 45 times more likely to be hospitalized than those who are fully vaccinated.”

As of today, 80.6 per cent of Nova Scotians are fully vaccinated. The percentage of unvaccinated includes children under the age of 12 who are not yet eligible.

“To those who could be vaccinated but aren't, who are only focusing on themselves, believing misinformation and false narratives, and more and more are acting with inappropriate anger, shame on you,” Strang said.

“You want to share in the benefits of Nova Scotia's strong COVID response, but you're not willing to carry your share of the work.”

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