‘You are not alone:’ a letter to the unvaccinated from the Alberta Medical Association

Dr. Kathy Fitch, president of the general psychiatry section of the Alberta Medical Association, addresses Alberta’s unvaccinated in a letter acknowledging their reasons for doubting, postponing, or ruling out jab altogether, offering some tools to prevent emotions from clouding your judgment.

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As the province grapples with the deadly and damaging effects of a rising fourth wave of COVID-19, a psychiatrist with the Alberta Medical Association is trying to help vaccine-hesitant see the bigger picture.


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On Wednesday, Dr. Kathy Fitch, president of the association’s general psychiatry section, addressed Alberta’s unvaccinated in a letter acknowledging their reasons for doubting, postponing, or completely ruling out vaccination, offering some tools to keep emotions from clouding your judgment.

“When our emotions reach a certain threshold, the logical part of our brain (our frontal lobe) literally shuts down,” Fitch said in the letter.

To keep that lobe from firing, he suggested listing the pros and cons of getting vaccinated and not vaccinated.

“It helps our logical brain to examine the variables and get out of the emotional tunnel vision of our old ‘usual’ decision-making process,” he said.


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For those who seem unable to identify a single pro or con, either for or against vaccination, there is a trick to making the list work, the psychiatrist adds, and that is to take an honest inventory of the facts along with the underlying thoughts and feelings. beliefs: a technique that is also used to help people struggling with eating disorders.

While some unvaccinated Albertans may understand that the COVID-19 vaccine has been effective in protecting against death and serious illness, there are likely more than a few emotional reasons that are holding people back, such as fear of adverse reactions.

“Regardless of what you are thinking, you are not alone,” Fitch said. “Other people think the same.”

On Wednesday, the province said more than 74 percent of eligible Albertans ages 12 and older have been fully vaccinated, but that only translates to about 63 percent of the total population. On Tuesday, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s medical director of health, said that 75 percent of Albertans who had died from COVID-19 in the past 120 days, 80 percent of COVID patients in the hospital and 91 percent of the people in intensive care were not fully vaccinated.


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Whether Alberta’s growing number of cases is causing anxiety among the unvaccinated, many in the province are nervous as COVID-19-related hospital admissions have brought Alberta’s health care system to the brink of collapse.

According to provincial data, Alberta had 268 ICU patients on Wednesday, the highest point yet in the pandemic. Less than a week ago, the ICU’s capacity was 89 percent, a percentage below the limit to activate the triage protocol, according to previously released Alberta Health Services documents.

Alberta Prime Minister Jason Kenney said Tuesday that according to the health authority’s early warning system, in a worst-case scenario, the province would reach its capacity limit of 380 ICU places around the third o fourth week of October. As of Tuesday morning, Alberta reached 86 percent of its ICU bed capacity.

“If Alberta doesn’t change course, more people will suffer and die,” Fitch said, “That’s true no matter how many ICUs and other hospital beds Alberta Health Services manages to improvise.”

He hopes that the tools he has provided will help Albertans who are hesitant about vaccines to use the tool for an honest moment of reflection.

“At the end of the day,” she said, “you are the person who needs to listen to yourself.”

– With files from Anna Junker and Lisa Johnson

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