Manitoba·First Person

High-risk family 'thrown under the proverbial bus' as Manitoba lifts restrictions, mom says

"We are NOT all in this together," writes Khalie Jackson-Davis in an open letter to Premier Heather Stefanson. "My high-risk family and I, as well as every other vulnerable Manitoban, feel like we have been thrown under the proverbial bus."

Learning to live with COVID doesn't mean Manitobans 'don't need and deserve protection': Khalie Jackson-Davis

Khalie Jackson-Davis, second from left, with her family. Both she and her son are immunocompromised. Reduced pandemic restrictions mean they are left to 'accept a level of risk that no one should have to,' she says. (Jody Sie)

This First Person column is the experience of Khalie Jackson-Davis, a Winnipeg mother. She wrote this open letter to Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson following the announcement last week that many pandemic-related restictions in the province will be lifted.

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Dear Premier Stefanson, 

We are NOT all in this together and last week's announcement was NOT all about Manitobans. 

My high-risk family and I, as well as every other vulnerable Manitoban, feel like we have been thrown under the proverbial bus.  We are now left to fend for ourselves and accept a level of risk that no one should have to, and all because we are done with COVID-19 and protecting our citizens? 

I feel like I'm living in a bad dream, where anti-vaxxer sentiment seems to prevail and my freedoms are curtailed, even though I have done everything humanly possible to keep me and my family safe, followed every public health restriction and then some, and sacrificed more than I thought was humanly possible.

My son and I are both immunocompromised.  I live with a rare disease called IgG4 that causes brain lesions and a myriad of accompanying symptoms. My son was recently diagnosed with CVID (common variable immunodeficiency). 

Prior to the pandemic, we were living relatively normal lives. I was working part-time, parenting, socializing and enjoying life.

Being high-risk, we literally gave up everything to keep us safe when COVID-19 hit. 

It's safe to say my family understands sacrifice.- Khalie Jackson-Davis

My children moved to remote learning, I began working from home, we wiped all groceries coming into the house, wore cloth masks, changed to double-layer masks, triple-layer, N95s, relied solely on deliveries, and have not had a single friend into our home since March 2020. 

We have not gone shopping, eaten in restaurants, gathered with friends, or participated in any other "regular" activities.

My husband has even temporarily moved out of our home as he cannot control his level of exposure at work while Omicron rages through.

We thought long and hard as we didn't want our family to be separated, but ultimately, we didn't feel we had a choice and didn't want to see what might happen if either my son or I were to contract COVID-19. 

When we talk about sacrifice, I think it's safe to say my family understands sacrifice.

Protecting family is not 'living in fear'

Some naysayers would say we're "living in fear." I say it is protecting my family. Enjoying simple luxuries, like going to the movie theatre or visiting a friend's home, are huge risks for us. 

What I fail to understand is when public health officials stand up and say there has always been a level of risk for immunocompromised people even prior to the pandemic hitting.

While I agree with that statement in principle, it does not even come close to encompassing the level of risk now. Suddenly my experiences prior to COVID-19 are now being equated with the realities of today? 

Before COVID-19, I could go about my daily life with relative ease. 

Could I get sick? Yes. The choices I made, however, did not put my health in immediate jeopardy.

The majority of Manitobans have done what they can to protect themselves.- Khalie Jackson-Davis

But apparently hospitalization and possible death are now risks that I must consider and weigh every time my husband, my children or I venture out the door.  I fail to see how this is even comparable.

The majority of Manitobans have done what they can to protect themselves and their fellow Manitobans.

Yes, we need to learn to live with this virus. Yes, COVID-19 fatigue is real. 

That doesn't mean citizens in this province don't need and deserve protection. Vaccine mandates, testing and public health restrictions once provided that protection.

As we lift all these procedures and mandates swiftly and so abruptly, it is very clear that every vulnerable Manitoban in this province is on their own. 

Premier Stefanson's announcement was definitely NOT all about Manitobans.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Khalie Jackson-Davis is a Winnipeg mother who, along with her son, is immunocompromised.

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