A sign at the Gibsons Legion’s Covid-19 vaccination clinic quotes Dr. Bonnie Henry urging people to be calm and to refrain from violence. I was shocked to see the “V” word because I couldn’t imagine a more peaceful, orderly place. But brutal words erupted in Davis Bay this weekend that made the warning seem appropriate.
When I arrived at the clinic last week, about ten people were ahead of me in a well-spaced line. A friendly security guard answered people’s questions and asked if they had symptoms. Within ten minutes I was inside the clinic.
Volunteers checked my name and medical card, and asked me to sanitize my hands and change my mask. I was sent to one of nine vaccination stations.
There I met Dr. Eddie Berinstein, who said I’d be getting the Pfizer vaccine. He asked if I had allergies, especially to polyethylene glycol, which is added to the vaccine as a stabilizer. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, about 11 out of a million people getting the Pfizer vaccine have an anaphylactic reaction to the additive. It is usually caught within 15 minutes and treated before it becomes severe. In contrast, about one out of 2,800 people worldwide have died from Covid.
I said I didn’t have the allergy, and Dr. Berinstein swabbed my arm. I hardly noticed the needle jab. He said I’d need another shot in 16 weeks.
“You shouldn’t wait longer than that.” He advised me to check the Vancouver Coastal Health website a couple weeks beforehand.
I waited 15 minutes at the back of the clinic to make sure I felt fine. As I walked toward the exit I noticed the “violence” sign. I wondered what the fuss was all about. We Coasters are a peaceful folk, courteous and kind, aren’t we?
On the weekend I encountered different types of signs at the south end of the Davis Bay seawall. A group from the Independent Medical Privacy and Choice of BC (IMPAC BC) was staging a demonstration. None of the protesters wore a mask. One was having a heated argument with a passerby.
“You’re being programed,” Rick Dignard, chair of IMPAC, told the woman. He said the government and media were giving false warnings about the severity of Covid-19.
“It’s only the flu. It’s another common-cold flu,” another protestor shot in.
“But people keep dying,” the passerby, a woman who lives in the area, told Dignard. “I just lost two friends to it.”
“So I lost two friends to suicide. Are you sad about that?” he said.
The woman walked away, assisted by a cane, and I caught up with her along the path. She said she was 56 years old and yet to be vaccinated. She was worried about misinformation anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers were spreading.
So I returned to the protest site and investigated. Dignard gave me Druthers, a newspaper with a headline shouting “A Pandemic of Fraud.” The Druthers website calls itself “Canada’s New, FREE, Alternative Newspaper, Because Mainstream Media, Sucks!” The site asks for donations.
“There’s something going on that your television is not talking about” Dingard said. “They’re (people are) going to die from the Covid shot. They’re going to die from bacterial infections they get from wearing a mask.”
“When would they die?” I asked.
“Your body will have some kind of autoimmune reaction to this shot,” he said. “You can die instantly or in years.”
(True. We will all die “in years,” but please see above about the reaction risk.)
I asked him about other vaccines, and whether people should immunize their children.
“What we are opposed to is forcing people to do things they don’t want to do with their body or their children.”
I asked him about polio and what would have happened to society without the Salk vaccine.
Polio was like a cold to most people, he said. “People were not clean. They didn’t have plumbing. They were drinking their own shit, waste; they were dirty.”
That comment hit home, literally. My dad grew up with a mother who kept their home so impeccable that today she’d probably be labelled as having OCD about cleanliness. As a baby my dad contracted polio. He spent his preschool years in hospital, hardly able to breathe, and endured several surgeries that cut off sections of his polio-ravaged leg. As an adult he became overweight. His left leg was fleshy and thick, but he hobbled on his stunted right leg, which looked like a tree twig.
Dr. Bonnie, I felt like punching someone when I thought of it. Thank you for your warning about violence.