The news revealed by the provincial government in its Nov 29 COVID-19 bulletin that the vaccination super site at the Thompson Regional Community Centre would be shutting down after Dec. 1 is welcome information, for a couple of reasons.
First of all, it is an indication that, thanks in large part to the efforts of those who staffed the site and the willingness of those who got themselves vaccinated to see past the usually flimsily sourced “evidence” that the vaccines are causing stillbirths or deaths or various other side effects, the tide is turning against the COVID-19 pandemic. It doesn’t mean it’s going to be over tomorrow, but it does mean that the end is closer than it ever has been and certainly should be much closer than the start of the pandemic, the prolonging effects of new variants like omicron notwithstanding. That happened because scientists developed a vaccine that was effective against the virus, governments devoted resources to getting as much of this vaccine into as many arms of their citizens as possible and people decided that, even if the benefit to themselves was not necessarily that great, it was worth it to society as a whole to get themselves immunized. That as large a site as the Thompson Regional Community Centre is no longer needed for COVID-19 vaccinations is a sign that the campaign has been successful. Not everyone who is eligible has gotten both doses of vaccine but a large majority in the north has, so while the pandemic’s fourth wave has not been easy on the region, it’s been considerably better than in places like the southern health region, where vaccine hesitancy or outright refusal is much higher.
As important as that reason is, and it is plenty important, the second reason why it’s good news that the TRCC will no longer be a vaccination site is, psychologically at least, even better. The COVID-19 pandemic has, largely, been about people giving up things, whether it’s seeing their friends, attending school in person, going out to movies or for meals at restaurants, the ability to hug their family members or have friends over to watch the game. It’s been tough on everybody’s mental health. And even though places like gyms are now allowed to open, the logistics of having both the vaccination site and the fitness centre open at the TRCC were apparently too much. Hopefully, however, that recreation option will be available to people again soon once the vaccine clinic is gone. And hopefully other pastimes like basketball, volleyball, badminton and gymnastics will be back on the menu at the rec centre as well. Not only is physical activity a good way to alleviate the mental and emotional stresses caused by the pandemic or even just by regular old normal life, but in this case, it’s also a sign. A sign that things are returning to normal, that the sacrifices of the past 20 months are paying off, that the collective efforts of Northern Manitobans have brought us to the point where the pandemic is no longer about things being taken away but about treasured activities returning. Hopefully it is just the first sign in a long sequence of many.