Grandparents throughout Manitoba are undoubtedly anxious to hug their grandkids as the province’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues to reach more of the population, but experts say they should wait a little while longer.
Susan Brandt and her husband Gilbert haven’t been able to give their six grandchildren a hug in a year. The 80-year-old couple still won’t be able to, even after they get their first dose of the vaccine Thursday night.
“I’m sure we thought about it (the chance to give hugs), yes, but we realized very quickly that wasn’t the case,” Susan Brandt said.
Although the couple has been able to see their grandchildren from a distance, giving them a hug is what they’re looking forward to most.
“It’s something that I have sorely missed,” Brandt said. “I communicate with them, but it’s not the same as being in the same room with them and being able to have lunch with them.”
Young and healthy Mercedes Rohr is aware that it will still be a while before she is eligible for the vaccine herself.
While Rohr is happy her grandmother is scheduled to get her shot later this month, she’s disappointed she won’t be able to hug and spend extra time with her soon after.
“It’s good to know that she’ll be getting it and it’ll be one step closer to being safer,” Rohr said. “She’s really important to me and only being able to see her for small amounts of time … it’s really hard.”
Epidemiologist Cynthia Carr said although it’s tempting as more people get vaccinated, she can’t encourage hugging just yet.
“We’re still in an ongoing learning process,” Carr said. “We’re still just at the starting point of our vaccination program.”
Carr said there will be a time when people can hug without giving it a second thought, but until then, she said even masks should still be worn when grandkids are near their grandparents.
“The best advice is to stick as much as possible to that multi-layered protection approach,” Carr said.
On Thursday, Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief public health officer, said the province is considering easing more restrictions soon, but didn’t give a date.
Still, he said, anyone who has had a vaccine should continue to follow social distancing, handwashing and mask protocols.
“It’s too early to be thinking about that,” Roussin said. “It’s a very optimistic time as we see more and more of our most vulnerable Manitobans getting vaccinated but it’s too early to let our guards down.”