Nicole Hunt thought she was just making small talk with the next person in line when she asked whether he’d been vaccinated.
But she soon found she’d run afoul of the shifting social mores surrounding this prickly question.
Hunt said she and the stranger were waiting for ice cream when they started commiserating over how ready they were to be done with COVID-19 restrictions.
For the mother of four in Oakville, Ont., getting her first shot was a promising step toward that goal.
But when she asked her in-line interlocutor if he had his jab, Hunt discovered he held a starkly different view.
“It just went to this awkward silence of us looking at each other and realizing that maybe we don’t really have anything to say.”
The faux pas exemplifies the murky social minefield one must navigate to inquire about someone’s COVID-19 vaccine status.
Members of polite society are polarized over whether it’s appropriate to ask people if they’ve rolled up their sleeves.
Some Canadians balk at what they see as an intrusion into personal health matters, but others maintain that vaccine disclosure is part of pandemic decorum.
It’s all part of an evolving etiquette that pits personal safety concerns against respect for medical privacy, say experts, who recommend taking a delicate touch to the vaccine question in the interest of both public health and social harmony.
“Some people will want to call people out, but I encourage people to really invite people into conversations,” said Dionne Gesink, a professor of epidemiology at University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health.
Gesink said there are a few things you should ask yourself before putting the vaccine question to someone else.
First, she said, why are you asking the question? And what do you plan to do with the answer?
COVID-19 vaccines have been shown to prevent serious illness and death. But the science of how they affect the spread of the virus is still emerging, and even double-dosed individuals are still susceptible to infection.
The ongoing vaccine rollout has left Canadians with varying degrees of protection, said Gesink. Questions about vaccines should come from a place of concern not only for your personal health, but the safety of those around you.
Knowing someone’s immunization status can help people make informed decisions about how to mitigate the risks of in-person interaction through a spectrum of precautions, she said, including socializing outdoors, wearing masks and maintaining physical distance.
Under certain circumstances, people may have to set hard boundaries, such as not inviting someone to an indoor function.
But with the right framing, the vaccine question doesn’t have to be contentious, and can even bring people closer, she said.
A point-blank “are you vaccinated” can end a conversation with a curt yes or no, said Gesink. But posing open-ended questions, such as “what are your thoughts on vaccination,” can prompt revealing discussions.
“By asking these sensitive, personal questions, you are investing in the relationship … as well as protecting yourself.”
But Gesink cautioned against “dropping bombs” on unsuspecting strangers and acquaintances who may feel wary about sharing their health history with someone they hardly know.
She added that if there’s any ambiguity about someone’s vaccine status, it’s best practice to assume they’re not and protect yourself accordingly.
Thankfully, many Canadians are quite forthcoming _ if not effusive _ about the fact that they’re vaccinated, said University of Toronto bioethicist Kerry Bowman.
But he harbours serious reservations about pressuring people to divulge personal health information.
There are many reasons why someone might not be vaccinated, he said, such as not meeting the eligibility requirements, barriers to access or medical concerns.
“People can easily be put on trial as to why they don’t want to be vaccinated,” he said. “Do they really have to answer to the whole world?”
Ottawa-based etiquette expert Julie Blais Comeau noted that health is one the last remaining taboos in modern society, so it’s unsurprising that social protocols surrounding vaccines are so sensitive.
If you’re tempted to broach the question, Blais Comeau recommends pausing to contemplate the potential consequences if the interaction goes awry.
“From the perspective of the other person, could you be friend or foe?” said Blais Comeau. “If you could be perceived as foe, well, maybe it’s best not to ask.”
Consider the context of the relationship, she said. For example, with a professional colleague, power dynamics could be at play. In family situations, she warned the question poses the risk of inflaming long-standing tensions.
When it comes to entertaining, Blais Comeau suggested that rather than asking guests to tick off what shot they got in their RSVP, hosts should state their vaccine preferences upfront and ask attendees to accommodate them.
People should extend the same courtesy, respect and empathy that they expect from others, whatever their vaccine status, said Blais Comeau. And if discord arises, compassion is the best strategy to find resolution.
“It’s not the time to judge, shame or preach,” said Blais Comeau. “The magical word could end up being, I care about you.”
NB businesses ponder how to proceed once pandemic restrictions are removed – CBC.ca
How fast to return to normal? That’s the question some business owners are asking in the wake of news that New Brunswick will remove its COVID-19 restrictions in less than a week.
More than 16 months have passed since the province implemented restrictions limiting the number of customers inside businesses, and enforcing mandatory masking and physical distancing.
At the end of the day next Friday, July, 30, those pandemic restrictions will end.
But when the clock strikes midnight don’t expect those precautions to magically disappear from all businesses.
The province has said businesses can choose to ease out of the restrictions more slowly if they want.
Dave Traboulsee, the owner of River Valley Footwear in downtown Fredericton, said that’s exactly what he plans to do.
Gauging by what he’s heard from his customers, he’s planning a cautious approach.
“I don’t think we can fully go back to normal yet — there’s still a lot of anxiety out there with shopping,” he said.
Until now he’s only been allowing people from two bubbles inside the store at a time.
He plans to increase that capacity slightly once the restrictions are removed, but said he hopes to talk to other business owners in the area to get a sense about whether masks should still be worn.
“It’s quite a big move to go from certain restrictions and keeping masks on to a free-for-all — and I don’t think we can go to a free-for-all,” he said.
In Moncton, those who work at Café Cest la Vie are hoping the move will bring more people back to work downtown again, and in turn, bring more people back into their shop.
Rebecca McCabe is a barista at the cafe and said masks will no longer be required, and they intend to get back to doing events again, like poetry readings and live music.
“It also means it’s an opportunity for us to have more people in the cafe so we can open up our capacity again.”
McCabe said they are still trying to figure out if there will be any restrictions in place at the cafe, but generally expects it to be a return to normal.
“Everyone seems pretty excited honestly — I think it will be nothing but help,” she said.
Ontario reports 170 COVID-19 cases, 3 deaths; 124K more vaccines administered – q107.com
Ontario reported 170 COVID-19 cases on Saturday, bringing the total number of cases in the province to 549,156.
“Locally, there are 44 new cases in Toronto, 26 in Peel Region, 17 in Hamilton, 15 in the Region of Waterloo and 13 in Grey Bruce,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said.
For comparison, last Saturday 176 cases were reported.
Three new deaths were also announced on July 24, bringing the provincial virus-related death toll to 9,311.
A total of 538,421 coronavirus cases are considered resolved, which is up by 150 and is 98 per cent of all confirmed cases.
More than 19,100 additional tests were completed. Ontario has now completed a total of 16,451,025 tests and 5,325 remain under investigation.
The province indicated that the positivity rate for the last day was 0.8 per cent, which down slightly from Friday’s report, when it was 0.9 per cent, and up from last Saturday’s report, when it was 0.6 per cent.
Provincial figures showed there are 132 people in intensive care due to COVID-19 (down by four), 86 of whom are on a ventilator (up by two).
Here is a breakdown of Ontario’s cases by age and gender:
- 273,725 people are male
- 271,734 people are female
- 88,751 people are 19 and under
- 205,695 people are 20 to 39
- 156,528 people are 40 to 59
- 72,892 people are 60 to 79
- 25,196 people are 80 and over
The province notes that not all cases have a reported age or gender.
The province also notes that the number of cases publicly reported each day may not align with case counts reported by local public health units on a given day. Local public health units report when they were first notified of a case, which can be updated and changed as information becomes available. Data may also be pulled at different times.
As of 8 p.m. Friday, 18,848,661 COVID-19 vaccine doses had been administered in Ontario, marking an increase of 124,261. Of those, 105,628 were second doses.
In Ontario, 80.7 per cent of adults aged 18-plus have received at least one vaccine dose and 67.1 per cent are fully vaccinated.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
COVID incidence in Waterloo Region continues to decline – TheRecord.com
WATERLOO REGION — The incidence rate of COVID-19 in the region continued to decline, and has now reached the lowest level since early November.
According to the latest numbers released Saturday by Waterloo Region Public Health, the seven-day moving average rate of cases per 100,000 population fell to 2.9 cases per 100,000 on Saturday. While still almost triple the provincial rate of one case per 100,000, the last time the region had an incidence rate that low was on Nov. 2.
The incidence rate in the region is nonetheless still one of the highest in Ontario, with just three regions out of the 24 in the province — Porcupine, Hamilton and Grey-Bruce — showing higher rates.
The number of positive cases in the region increased by 14, for a total of 18,271 since the pandemic began.
Other indicators also showed positive trends.
The number of active cases dropped overnight by nine to 134.
The number of outbreaks decreased from 11 to nine.
The number being treated for COVID in hospital remained steady at 13, while the number of those who have died from the virus was also unchanged at 282. Thirteen people were being treated in intensive care, a decrease of three from the previous day.
The number of variants of concern remained steady at 4,579.
As of Friday, 81.26 per cent of the region’s residents over age 12 have received at least one dose, while 63.75 per cent have been fully vaccinated. Another 5,311 people received a vaccine on Friday.
A total of 537,724 test have been carried out in the region.
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