I appreciate the challenge you and your staff face each week to provide us with interesting and informative news. I so enjoyed your article on the Evans triplets of 1941 [April 29 edition]. It was a warm and enlightening story.
Also, I thought Roger’s column “Finding a Little Happy” was so accurate. His quote by the late Jack Layton should be in our memory bank forever.
Glenys Yorke, Uxbridge
While I appreciate an open dialogue, I was dismayed to read the letter from Ms. Maynard, who remarked that the advice provided by four local family physicians and two local pharmacists was “utter nonsense”. Actually, I was more than dismayed, I was angry. Angry that someone who doesn’t know me, doesn’t work in healthcare, hasn’t seen the effects of COVID-19 first hand and in the ICU, felt they had to use such unkind words to describe me, my colleagues and what was intended to be an informative session.
I gave it a day, and now that I have had a chance to reflect on Ms. Maynard’s perspective, and I want to approach it with kindness. I don’t think she realizes how she comes across. And so it is with the upmost respect that I would like Ms. Maynard and those in her camp to think carefully about the position they hold when asserting their ability to wait and choose for “the right” vaccine. About their ability to work in a safe environment, or work from home, or not work at all. About their ability to avoid social interactions by ordering curb side pick up or Amazon home delivery. About their ability to avoid interacting with persons who are at risk for COVID by not having children in school or extended family members who share one home. About their ability to avoid facing COVID at work because they are not a healthcare provider or essential caregiver. About their ability to say that they would not get a vaccine at all except that they want to travel.
The reality is that, for most Canadians, simply living and working brings them in contact with enough people that the risks for COVID-19 far outweigh any real or perceived risks to the vaccines, and delaying vaccination for a ‘”preferred” brand is like fussing over a lifejacket color as the ship is sinking. The vaccines currently available to Canadian’s all offer exceptional risk reduction for hospitalization and death, so it is only in specific situations (eg. immunosuppression, allergy) that we would suggest waiting for a specific vaccine.
I do agree with Ms. Maynard that anyone with concerns should discuss with their family physician or pharmacist. We are here and ready to talk.
Dr. Carlye Jensen, Uxbridge Health Centre
Mary K. Maynard’s overreaching, all-guns blazing letter of April 29 rails at the health care system (“medical gestapo”) which she sees as coercive, particularly in regard to COVID-19 vaccines.
Ms. Maynard, who appears to possess a well-developed sense of self, has the unquestionable right to decline a particular vaccine and to decline all vaccines. In exercising that right, she may do herself AND her fellow human beings a disservice, but that is her choice. Though public health systems and governments have made recommendations relating to vaccines, very few people would agree with Ms. Maynard that they have been coercive in this regard. Their recommendations are made for the common, public good, i.e., to minimize deaths, deleterious, long-lasting health impairment resulting from COVID-19, and to emerge as early as possible from the general societal disruption precipitated by the virus.
Ms. Maynard writes of the “COVID fiasco” and “mess,” blaming with broad brush imprecision, “not Canadians” but “governments and public health departments who have failed to protect us.” Someone should inform Ms. Maynard that in Canada, those who work within governments and public health departments are generally Canadians.
When using terms such as “medical gestapo” she would do well to give a thought to the countless doctors, nurses, and others within the medical system who are working their hearts out, at significant risk to themselves, in COVID-19 wards and ICUs. Thousands of others are administering COVID-19 tests and vaccines, and doing contact tracing, all of which has benefited Ms. Maynard directly or indirectly, whether she realizes it or not.
Ms. Maynard advises people to listen to their family doctors about COVID-19 vaccines, not to “this lot,” i.e., not to the aforementioned people, including those in public health agencies. From whom does she think family doctors get their information on COVID-19 vaccines? They obtain it from public health agencies which are advised, in turn, by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization.
If Ontario is in a “COVID mess,” one of the reasons is the behaviour of the segment of the populace that ignores, resists or flouts regulations and advisories, including mask wearing, physical distancing and minimizing
congregate gatherings where possible, as well as opposing lock-down measures. Accepting the first vaccine that is available to one is widely recommended by the medical community, including family doctors, as a safe measure to help get COVID-19 under good control as quickly as possible.
We need people to be part of the solution, not part of the problem, people who have a concern for others, not just for themselves. That is how we will collectively beat COVID-19.
Earle Lockerby, Sandford
This letter is to the gathering of 4×4 riders who were congregating on Main St. N. last Saturday morning.
There were people in the yard just north of the gas bar, not masked and not two metres distanced. More trucks with 4x4s passed me as I walked by. The age group seemed to indicate people in their late thirties and forties, so not a group that has even been vaccinated.
There are currently 47 cases of COVID in Uxbridge. There are three cases in our hospital. We are under a stay-at-home order by the province. We are to socialize only with people in our household. If one of this group is carrying COVID, all of you could get this virus and pass it on to your spouses and children and to your co-workers. Now our children are starting to die from this virus.
I am a senior and have been locked in my house for over a year. I have missed the birth of my only grandchild and there have been no services for 12 of my friends and family who have died.
I am tired of your selfishness. In the name of everyone who has suffered because of COVID, of all the people who have lost their jobs and their businesses because of COVID, for all the children who can’t go to school and are not achieving their educational targets, for God’s sake, STAY HOME!
Nancy Emo, Uxbridge
The Cosmos is proud that it has a vibrant, active Letters to the Editor section, but it sometimes comes under fire for the content of those letters. The National Newsmedia Council (NNC), a voluntary, self-regulatory ethics body for the news media industry in Canada, recently released the following statement with regards to Letters to the Editor and COVID-19-related content.
Over the past several months, the NNC has been hearing a great deal about pandemic-related reader comments and letters to the editor.
“Yet another (letter) praising (a writer’s) comments has appeared in this week’s (paper). Large numbers of protestors have started to protest measures based on this type of misinformation that they believe affects them,” is one lament we heard.
“It concerns me that misinformation, and disinformation for that matter, would even get published.”
Some readers have told us they are worried about how the alleged misinformation published as letters to the editor will hurt public health and encourage risky social behaviour(s). They report being afraid to challenge those facts or opinions because of the fear of social media backlash.
We also heard about the other side of the coin – readers upset about being unable to submit comments on COVID-19 coverage.
One reader who contacted us said he and others were unable to post comments containing self-described ‘alternate information’ about COVID-19. Another complainant wanted to post “facts and data that media and governments are not providing to the public.”
Letters to the editor are a long-standing feature allowing readers to express opinions and to respond to published articles. Online comments provide a similar forum for discussion. Best practice is to publish letters that represent the diversity of views and voices in the community.
But what if letters to the editor espouse misinformation?
We’ve heard of letters to the editor containing anti-mask and anti-vaccine rhetoric. In smaller communities, or ones with (thankfully) few cases of COVID, and where the impact is perhaps less obvious, do those opinions carry outsized influence? How does a newsroom assess whether it is giving voice to diverse views or is spreading misinformation? At what point is there no “other side” in matters of public health?
These are questions worthy of attention as the pandemic underlines a new challenge in the news media’s effort to quell misinformation while promoting freedom of expression.
For its part, the NNC cannot settle controversies around COVID-related science and policy. It supports the prerogative of news organizations to produce journalism it deems to be in the public’s interest. Our mandate is to consider complaints about breaches of journalistic standards in news reporting and opinion articles, including ones related to COVID-19.