JANUARY 31, 2021 – Are Ontario’s rural doctors the forgotten victims of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout?
It’s a question that health care workers who serve significant communities north of the GTA and 401-corridor ask themselves as the months tick by and the number of cases and outbreaks swell.
For these doctors, lack of vaccine protection or even word on when it’s coming is disturbing, as evidenced by cries for help shared on Twitter.
When these doctors or clinics are impacted by Covid-19 there rarely are replacements to fill the void, and many are forced to work in riskier conditions than some of their Urban confreres.
Moreover, doctors now fear government pushbacks that could lead to funding cuts or being fired for speaking out when clearly, the plan failed to identify features that distinguish healthcare-delivery in rural versus urban settings.
“Grave consequences exist if rural doctors become ill due to lack of vaccine protection,” says one doctor who wishes, due to fear, to remain anonymous, adding:
“Unlike urban settings, we do everything in rural medicine. It’s what we’re trained for, what we love and are devoted to. But this also puts us at increased risk of becoming infected and is especially true for those who may work in long-term care, ICUs or emergency rooms or for those who may be required to travel long distances with patients by ambulance. In other words, situations where close-up and sustained exposure to the virus can occur during and after aerosolized procedures such as intubation. And because we’re small teams that ‘do it all,’ rural systems are at risk of collapsing.”
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